Friday, October 14, 2005

Newspapers: Circling the Wagons from What?

Newspapers have been playing chess in the park with their advertisers while their subscribers are playing online, and the younger generation is playing Quake or searching for porn. All week, Romenesko posted links to articles predicting the new generation of newspapers. That's like predicting who's going to be in the Super Bowl the Saturday before Super Sunday.

Newspapers have kept their traditional medium relatively unchanged since the 1930s. When radio and television emerged, nothing changed except the whispers inside the Editor's gut saying something needs to be done. From whisper, it is now shouting, only it's shouting to an empty room of reporters. While editors may be inclined to take the noble stand of staying aboard a sinking ship, the next generation of reporters are looking at other venues.

This next generation has grown-up on the internet. Wherever our bodies may be, the internet is home. Most small-town papers that covered our high school track meets and athletic booster car washes don't have a strong internet presence. Newspapers know this. But it's not a breaking story. And with bloggers starting to make some decent money, newspaper editors are defensive, careful not to let any new-comer idea change what has become an American tradition.

Either change with us, or get out of our way. Circle your wagons, keep your tradition safe-guarded and warm beside the campfire. Graduating journalism students know the tradition isn't the history, it's the ideal and that can change with the times so long as there are writers and readers.

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