Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why newspapers are dead

The demise of printed newspapers is getting a lot of ink lately. People's primary psychological reaction to this news is nothing more than nostalgia. Journalism will survive the death of the medium.

The main news wires are ironically most responsible for the wholesale migration of newspaper readership to online. You can get an AP or Reuters story on Yahoo! as soon as it hits the wire. Why wait until tomorrow when the story is old news?

Newspapers' top remaining niche was local. However, their local revenue has been destroyed by Craigslist and will be further eroded by effective local mobile advertising.

Another niche will be quality reporting and investigation for time-starved intellectuals that summarizes important stories and filters the online thrash and bias. Think The Economist (though it's free online now too). Another niche will be underreported foreign news and analysis for expats and sophisticated readers. Think a more engaging Foreign Affairs. But these will be weeklies, not dailies.

My personal rebellion against newsprint has 3 primary sources: the unmanageable broadsheet (they should have gone tabloid style long ago - it's even cheaper to print), inky fingers and stains (yes, even with modern inks), and the AP's insulting repetitive inverted pyramid style (and single sentence paragraphs) designed to make it easier for an editor to cut a story short to fit column inches than for readability. A secondary complaint is the "continued on page 5" phenomenon. That's probably OK for the front page (get more headlines in front of the reader), but once inside, stop making me jump all over the place to finish a story.

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