Old Media vs New Media
Old Media vs New Media

With many new types of media available online, the newspaper industry has been loosing traction and are being forced to downsize. Is this just an inevitable chain of events due to the onset of the information age, or do newspapers still hold a valuable market and just need to adjust their thinking? I think that the newspaper industry has a solid product and will continue to have a market, but I feel that their market is changing and they need to reevaluate their approach to the editorial consumer.

Web logs (blogs) have developed a massive reader base in the past few years. They are easy to access and are often quicker than newspapers to publish breaking news. Many blogs are directed at a specific field of knowledge, so if you are interested in one of the articles you will most likely be interested in others by the same author. Many authors have become very well known and their work is checked on a regular basis or referenced with regard to their topic of expertise. Authors build a reputation and credibility through the quality of their work, but do not have an obligation to produce content.

Newspaper columnists, on the other hand, are paid by newspaper companies and must create content in order to keep their jobs. The newspaper industry is therefor paying for consistent and quality journalism through infrastructure and must keep up sales if it is going to stay in business. The one major thing that I feel is lacking in the newspapers approach and presentation is the human aspect. They have tried to centralize their view to be “the paper’s” view and with that have not been presenting their contributors well enough. It is difficult to know exactly who wrote the article you are reading in a paper because you only have a name and picture to go on. Unless you follow a specific writer’s work, you have no frame of reference to fully understand their stance. This is an area where I feel the blogisphere excels. Because the majority of the writing done in blogs are opinion pieces, writers must build credibility as a person in order for anyone to take them seriously. Newspapers already have the initial credibility, so why haven’t they tried to create personal credibility for their writers and create aggregated environments of their work? A lot of this comes down to the way the newspaper industry has tried to adapt to blogs entering the market. They have taken a head on approach, mainly because they have an arrogance about the quality of their content and feel that they should not have to compete on the same level. If you really think about this, it is an amazing situation for the newspapers because the majority of blogs are flooding a large amount of lower quality content into the public domain.

So what do newspaper companies have to gain and loose from presenting their writers online and giving them an online credibility? They would tell you that they would loose potential sales because they are releasing the same content free online, so why would anyone pay for it? The truth of the matter is that newspapers have a huge tactile advantage to blogs. Once you know which writers you like and who they write for, you are more likely to buy the paper to read in a coffee shop. Unlike a laptop, if you get get ketchup on a paper you probably won’t go insane. People already spend more time than they would like in front of their computer, so they will take advantage of the chance to catch up on their favorite reading without going bug eyed.

Newspaper companies are already having to lay off employees because of reduced sales. I feel that the jobs being lost are a direct result of their inability to adapt to the information age and by not taking the initiative to compete in the new technology market. They are set in their ways and are not paying attention to the current trends in the population. There is not a future in cutting down large areas of trees to feed paper mills which pollute our environment so that a newspaper can to placed on every person’s doorstep every morning. A large percentage of these papers are never even read and are just tossed in the recycling bin (if not worse, the trash). The newspaper industry needs to become an on demand service with improved social interests if it expects to be able to compete in the upcoming era…

June 1, 2007
759 words

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Will Stevens (swill)

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