To begin, let's look at the state of newspapers today. To put it mildly: it's not so good. Circulation rates are dropping, readership is declining, staff sizes are shrinking, and some of the biggest newspapers in the country are closing.
QUESTION: Can you name some of the biggest daily newspapers in America? Give me as many as you can.
Well, according to TIME magazine, a lot of the papers you just named will close in less than two years. Wuh wuh.
Ten Major Newspapers in Danger
There's no denying newspapers are in bad shape right now. Look no further than newspapers themselves for testimony. In the course of my research, it was never hard to find an article in a newspaper or magazine about how hard newspapers and magazines are having it. Check out this website, which is dedicated to chronicling "the decline of newspapers and the rebirth of journalism." Ouch.
Newspaper Death Watch
And look at these sites too, which are also interested in detailing the "End of Newspapers."
Paper Cuts- Layoffs and buyouts at U.S. newspapers in 2009
The Demise of Print- A chronicle of publications that were once found in print, but now only exist on the Internet
QUESTION: What do you like least about newspapers?
So clearly, print newspapers are not satisfying the needs of the customer. One study I found identified some of the most common complaints:
- Schoolwork and jobs make energy for reading news limited, and reading a print newspaper is time-consuming.
- The delivery approaches of newspapers were too dated and slow, and nobody has patience for yesterday’s news.
- Newspapers are too long and filled with trivial or gossipy information.
- Budgets cannot accommodate the price of a daily newspaper.
Their websites are not doing much better. The biggest problem with newspaper websites is that they too closely resemble the print edition of the newspaper. There's not enough exclusive content, the layout resembles the layout of the print paper, etc.
QUESTION: Why are these websites so unappealing?
Daily Express- Ewww!
The Independent- Small font! Multi-sentence paragraphs! Uh- oh!
The Daily Mail- Again, font is too small! No subheadings!
Meanwhile, there are now lots of alternatives to newspapers on the Internet --- namely, news blogs. While they certainly have problems of their own, they seem to better give audiences what they want: participation and news on demand, among other things. First, here are some good participatory journalism sites, where people can write the news:
iReport- Accepts video, photos and audio from a computer or cell phone. A compilation of news items submitted by citizen journalism.
Babblestorm- People in the UK sharing items of interest to discuss and rank the latest news items. Create a profile and submit content.
Feed the Bull- User-driven, social content site where people submit, comment, and vote on financial news articles. Every user can feed (help promote), starve (remove spam), and comment on the items posted.
Associated Content- AC's platform enables anyone to participate in the new content economy by publishing content on any topic, in any format (text, video, audio and images), and connects that content to consumers, partners and advertisers.
Now, here are some of the best blogs on the Internet. Increasingly, audiences are turning to these instead of newspapers.
QUESTION: Can you tell me why people might like these blogs?
As we look at these blogs let's discuss transparency (hyperlinks), objectivity, accuracy, trust, and fairness. These are things that make people love blogs and they are things that make people hate blogs.
Huffington Post- The mac daddy of news blogs
Daily Kos- a liberal politcal blog
The Daily Dish- authored by The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan.
The Caucus- the politics and government blog of the New York Times
Talking Points Memo- a liberal political blog authored by John Marshall, a former print journalist.
There's a lot of arguing about which provides the best model for journalism-- blogs or newspapers. But truthfully neither one is better than the other. So why can't they be friends? The media ecosystem depends on every medium working together in harmony! These blogs, for instance, could make newspapers better.
Regret the error- This one exposes errors in newspapers. If newspapers payed attention to this, they would probably make fewer errors.
Newsbusters- This one "exposes liberal media bias." I mean, a less biased media is good, no? Even if you don't believe this sort of thing?
And newspapers make blogs better by calling them out when they make mistakes. They also provide information to the public that blogs can't, such as news on police and government goings-on.
Still, if newspapers don't adapt to the new media environment, they're going to go extinct. That's bad! The last part of my paper describes what newspapers could do to get their readers back. One of the things they need to do is get better websites.
Here are some of the best major newspaper websites. If all newspaper sites were like this one, the industry as a whole would be better off. These websites are great because they are updated constantly, they have great layouts, and they use all different types of media including video and stills/audio. They also have their very own blogs!
New York Times- the cream of the crop, in my opinion. Let's look at their Travel section, their blogs, and the One in 8 Million feature.
USA Today- has everything a good newspaper website should-- video, blogs, and exclusive online content. Let's look at The Day in Pictures, Games, and the Interactive Graphics.
QUESTION: DO THESE SITES MAKE YOU LOVE NEWSPAPERS A LITTLE MORE?
Well, they should. If newspapers keep doing what the Times and USA Today are doing, then they may very well get to see the other side of this mess. This blog here shows you that there is hope for newspapers. But they've got to get to work, quickly!
What's Next: Innovations in Newspapers- specifically let's look at the post, "Something New Is Cooking In Portugal"
THANKS FOR PARTICIPATING!