Ryan and Mike railed and ranted (and offered a bit of hope) on dead-tree newspapers. They are irritated at the poor and shrinking local coverage, sloppy reportage, and bottom-line orientation of owners.
The stereotype of the newer generations reading less and being more online oriented seems true. (See the 2-year-old Pew Online News report.) Yet the real problems have been with newspapers themselves.
We discussed the related issues and how we see netroots, other blogging, and finally newspapers beginning to get it, but not this week, month, or even year. Citizens’ journalism is working where its limited trials are simmering, but those are not ready for massive roll-outs. Meanwhile, publicly traded newspapers are slashing when they should be expanding their offerings.
They also seem to have lost the public-service aspect that has always characterized print journalism. Ryan figures that this will remain or return only where newspapers have local owners. Mike adds that they never have offered high profit margins like some industries, and that investors who want that need to look elsewhere.
Yet, there’s lots of room for news management to expand their offerings and get new revenue sources. They need to show courage and innovation that some European owners have for over a decade.
About a year and one half ago, Pew Research sat a punch of professionals and academics down to discuss Can the ‘Dead Tree’ Newspaper Survive? The resulting roundtable was not unanimous, but did conclude that the general answer is yes, but not as they are now. The experts touched on how they got themselves into the current mess and what they see for the mid-term and longer. Mike also promised a link to the Marry in Massachusetts post on how ethnic newspapers here are sharing resources to compensate for their small staffs and necessarily limited geographic and topic coverage.