Reflections

Jeff Jarvis:

  Newspapers and newspaper companies are about to die. The last remaining puddles of auto, home, job, and retail advertising are about to be sucked down the drain thanks to the economic crisis and credit is about to be crunched into dust. So any newspaper or news company that has been teetering will fall. If Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and AIG can fall, so can a puny newspaper empire — and there’ll be no taxpayer bailout for them. When this happens, will it be Sam Zell’s fault? Hardly.

  The Times veterans should not be suing Zell. They should be suing themselves...

  Want to see who’s to blame for the state of your paper? Get a mirror.

I’m not quite so pessimistic, although I agree about the direction of history’s vector. Meanwhile, in respect to this…

  When the internet came, did you all – every one of you as responsible, smart journalists, on your own – leap to get training in audio and video? Did you immediately hatch new ways to work collaboratively with the vast public of bloggers able and willing to join in local journalism? Not that I saw.

… credit where due to the LATimes for hiring Tony Pierce to run the paper’s bloggig and blogging-outreach operation. It might be a matter of deck chair rearrangement, but at least it was one good move.

6 comments

  1. justcorbly’s avatar

    What concerns me about newspaper cutbacks is not that less news is being distributed on paper, but that the number of people paid to find and report the news is decreasing, regardless of how that news is delivered. That means less news, period. Blogers like Jarvis have shown no interest and no ability to fill that gap.

    I hold the opinion that almost all bloggers use the news of the day simply to trigger a post expressing their opinion. A blogger’s opinion is not news.

    Jarvis and other often seem to gloat about the problems in the newspaper industry. I do not undersand why.

  2. Mike Warot’s avatar

    Corbly, I agree entirely. If we have no means of deriving the truth collectively, then we’re screwed.

    I think we need to get going on Social Journalism, before time runs out…

    I’ve written up a screed/kernel of a manifesto here: http://mikewarot.blogspot.com/2008/09/we-need-social-journalism-now.html

    –Mike–

  3. Doc Searls’s avatar

    justcorbly,

    I don’t want to speak for Jeff here, but I don’t think he’s gloating. I think he’s expressing frustration at having given good advice for years and not having it heard.

  4. mary hodder’s avatar

    I don’t think paper newspapers are about to die. I think they have died already.

    When I walk downtown, past all the public transit outlets, to my gym, I see box after abandoned box. These empty haven’t-been used-in-a-long-time newspaper boxes have the names of essentially abandoned newspaper companies. And in some areas, over the last few weeks, I’m watching those rows of boxes get uninstalled as the city realizes that they aren’t needed and no one is using them.

    In the meantime, no one has done much to figure out how to make ads pay well enough to save the industry, or better yet figure out how to make journalism and reporting that lead to things that make money. The “because of” economy is budding at best.

    It’s frustrating because we obviously need reporting and journalism to function in a democracy, and the newspaper biz has had Jeff, Vin Crosbie and many others addressing this problem for years, with little movement or innovation.

  5. Christian Einfeldt’s avatar

    At the risk of being unpopular here, I will say that newspapers and really all the major news have failed to deliver balanced coverage for years; and have failed to do more than rewrite the US Administration’s press releases for years; and as a result are now reaping the harvest of the abandonment of their responsibility. Yes, journalism is a business, but the media has failed to lead, and has, instead, allowed public opinion to drive its editorial direction, coupled with conservative editors wanting to support a conservative viewpoint that seems partisan to the average reader.

    I’m not sure that big media is failing; I just think that its market share is shrinking. Democracies will always need the muscle and experience of big media to get at the hard-to-find stories that distributed media like bloggers miss; and democracies will also need the muscle of big media to create a prominent platform upon which to disseminate the really important stories of the day.

    The question is whether big media will have the courage to tell the stories that need to be told in the face of their imperative as businesses to make a profit. There is an inherent problem with running journalism as a business, and that is telling stories that the readers might not like. Distributed media like bloggers can do that, because they have a different imperative. The question is whether big media can square their bottom line imperative with their mission as vanguards of truth in a democracy.

  6. tony’s avatar

    thanks as always for the love Doc!

    Go Cubs Go!

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