The Decline Of Newspapers, The Rise Of The New York Times
Recently, more bad newspaper news. Large job cuts at the San Francisco Chronicle, the resignation of their managing editor, and the San Jose Mercury News is likely next.
The Decline Of News
In reaction, a journalism professor suggested that old standby that traditional news is a bastion of credibility that just can’t go away (gosh darnit) and Google should fund newspapers out of charity (?). I must politely disagree.
The public doesn’t consider mainstream news a credible source. Those on the left complain that it’s too conservative, while conservatives complain about “liberal bias.” The middle turns to Jon Stewart.
Henry fears a future where news is “latest snarky rants from basement bloggers, fake news reports from government officials and PR cleverly peddled in the guise of journalism by advertisers wishing only to sell, sell, sell.” Uh, that’s the past. The time for prevention has long passed. It’s time to do something.
10 Obvious Things About The Future Of Newspapers
I then read this extremely succinct and to the point post from Invisible Inkling. I agree entirely.
It’s worth comparing the style of these two articles as they also point out some additional things I think are wrong with traditional newspapers.
- Post A is written for print. Reprinted online, it suffers. Well written, it’s much too long. It doesn’t make a point until much later in the post, when I’d guess many online readers have given up. Online “readers” skim. The writer asks specific questions of the reader, but doesn’t provide space for comments. There is no way to respond.
- Post B is written for the web. The post is broken into major points, numbered in list form. The point comes first, the thoughts later. There are also tons of links, provided as evidence or further reading. At the end of the article are open comments.
The Crumpled New York Times
The protocols for engaging an audience are very different on the Internet. At work, I read an excellent New York Times article on their website about toxic Chinese glycerin finding its way into cough syrup. This web version was supplemented with video and an interactive Flash graphic showing how a chemical travelled around the globe.
On my train ride home I happened upon a crumpled copy of the Times left behind by another rider. I found this exact article – so vibrant and vivid to me online – in the print version, which in the crumpled up newspaper was buried among other stories on the front page. It looked crushed and disjointed, separated across several pages, and none of the supporting multimedia that encouraged me to read the entire article online.
There is no question which I prefer.
The New York Times said they’re shifting their reporting style to focus for online. I see the results already. They are getting the web. They are taking action, improving the quality of their online experience, and repositioning for the future. Yes, it’s more work, but they’re taking action. Most certainly, not writing wimpy editorials for snarky bloggers to take pot shots at.