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Newspapers pre-Internet: Blogs post-Internet. Discuss.

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#1 bwelford


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Posted 17 October 2005 - 08:42 PM

I've been struck recently by the fact that blogs and the blogosphere represent a disruptive technology to the traditional printed newspaper media. I've blogged on this here and here.

The crucial factor is that however good a newspaper article may be, when you've reached the end of the article, you've reached the end of the article. There's no forward path to take to get more information. On rare occasions a website may be mentioned where more information can be found. Yes, but who wants to type in a web address.

Blogs, on the other hand, can include links to other useful information sources. With a mere mouse click, you can be wandering through cyberspace. It's surprising that more professional journalists haven't moved on to the blogosphere. Of course it's difficult to derive the same revenues from the blogosphere as you might from the traditional newsprint media.

So there those poor professional journalists sit on the wrong side of the ever-widening digital divide.

How do you see it? Exaggeration or a view of the future?

#2 BillSlawski


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Posted 17 October 2005 - 09:23 PM

Interesting points, Barry.

I think that it is possible for newspapers to adapt, and to adapt well. But, to do so, they create a divide between the printed version of the paper, and the online version.

The internet version of my local paper will often provide links to previous stories on the same subect. It's a nice way to get the background of a story, if there is one. My local paper has also experimented with blogs, and with audio and video of stories.

As for the printed version, I suspect that there will always be an audience that wants to leaisurely read the paper over breakfast, or carry it with them onto the bus or train.

But what else can the printed version do, that the online version can't?

Posters of sports stars?
Special features, like those weekly or monthly magazines carry?
Special sections for specific neighborhoods?

I'm sure that there are more things that the printed version of a newspaper can do, but they are being forced to consider those options. Interesting times. Newspapers have adapted to radio. They've adapted to television. Can they change in the time of the internet?

#3 Ron Carnell

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 10:22 PM

Of course it's difficult to derive the same revenues from the blogosphere as you might from the traditional newsprint media.

I don't think that should be disregarded as a trivial difference. Quality and reliability don't come cheaply. How many bloggers have two or three people checking all the facts before publication? How many bloggers can you really trust as credible sources?

I think blogging, right now at least, represents a good venue for education. Even there, one has to be very selective. As a news media, however, I see a whole lot more National Enquirers out there than Wall Street Journals.

#4 bwelford


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Posted 18 October 2005 - 07:40 AM

My thoughts on this matter were partially fuelled by watching what Business Week and my local paper, the Montreal Gazette, are doing in this area. Business Week does have a blog, although it's still one way communication. It does have a RSS newsfeed but no comments and no trackbacks. One political reporter on the Gazette does have a blog but it does not have a newsfeed nor comments nor trackbacks.

I was intrigued to notice someone from a UK university visiting one of the blog entries this morning after doing a Google Blog Search for 'newspapers'. Here's what they got for the result. Check out the Related Blogs. That seems a clear case of the two solitudes.

Posted Image

#5 Ron Carnell

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 09:40 AM

As coincidence would have it, Barry, my thoughts were almost certainly influenced by reading in the same places Ammon has been reading.

#6 bwelford


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Posted 18 October 2005 - 10:10 AM

You're right, Ron. There's an incredible amount of junk in the blogosphere. I'm concentrating more on the cream that will float to the top. Indeed I hope the really good journalists will find merit in the technological advantages of the blogging world, as opposed to the self-imposed constraints around the print media. So I'm hoping for more cream.

To illustrate the constraints, I really enjoy reading the print version of the Montreal Gazette. It's most enjoyable. However if I want to read most of the good stuff on line I must pay a subscription. If I did so, then I may or may not be able to find an old article since I'm relying on their internal search process. All this subscription part is not visible to the search engines.

The part that isn't behind the subscription wall disappears within a week or two. So even if I find any of that non-subscription stuff using a Google News search, in many cases the article is no longer there.

So for me the Montreal Gazette is a great physical medium but has little to do with where I find most of my news, which is the Internet. .. and for the life of me I find it difficult to figure out how they could change that, if they wished to.

#7 Jim_Hedger


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Posted 21 October 2005 - 04:18 PM

I think you're totally right bwelf. Newspapers are going electronic and I would expect to see the major news gathering organizations stepping up their migration to electronic media.

We are already seeing the integration happening with NYTimes / About, Time Warner finally finding a good use for AOL, and Murdoch's sudden obsession with search. Up here, CanWest has made the migration quite well though much of it is kept behind subscriber-only curtains. The key is finding a way to make the advertisers pay for the service and providing news free to the consumer. That's what is really driving contextual delivery models and personalization. (Yesterday, an adwords ad for a local Victoria mayoralty candidate appeard on a DMNews document I was viewing. We all thought it was quite spiffy.)

Newspapers are by tradition very conservative beasts. Adaptation to change comes slowly for a workforce with ink in their veins. Thing is, if they don't adapt soon the red-ink they are bleeding will turn into a torrent. The largest media con-gloms are already moving into the space and are altering the way they deliver news rapidly. To add to the issue, the cost of newsprint in the US is about to rise drastically as Canada starts applying its own duties on wood product exported to the US (major trade dispute over lumber). At least that's a new-rumour here in BC where lumber duties are as important as the weather.

The evolution will be most interesting and in this case will be podcast. As for the space-junk floating around the blogosphere, it will improve and appear to dissipate over time as the medium segments. Same thing happened in the early days of the web but we all find it useful today, even with the presence of cyber-junk.

#8 bwelford


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Posted 21 October 2005 - 04:36 PM

Welcome to the Forums, Jim_Hedger :wave:

Perhaps a sign of the times (no pun intended) was that item in the New York Times on cutting staff at the end of September (unfortunately only a summary without subscribing).

#9 lorenbaker


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Posted 24 November 2005 - 07:27 AM

I think, as a news blog, you have to keep one toe dipped in the blogosphere and the other in traditional online news publications. That way, you are differentiated from the clutter of the blogosphere and the old school news world.

#10 Ruud


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Posted 24 November 2005 - 08:48 AM

Newspapers and news magazines are good in print. Really good. Some of them are over 100 years old. Radio, silent movies, movies with sound, 24 hour newscasts - newspapers are still there and going strong.

It takes almost nothing for a newspaper to do the same online. Blogs seem the right thing to do? Then you stamp more blogs out of the ground, like the Washington Post does for instance. Some of the more hip among us snuff their nose at that; written text blogs! Podcasts is where it's at! No problem either. Hop on over to the Boston Globe for the Boston Globe Bizcast business podcast. Virtually all the top publications are well set in the blogosphere, linking out like crazy, blogrolling like the best, sending pingbacks, receiving trackbacks.

However, the reverse is not true. If we include the old link-only definition of blogs than the oldest blogs would be around 20-25 years. None of them have tried to go where printed press goes. Online content doesn't usually translate well to offline content while the reverse is very doable.

The medium won't change either. That newspapers will go online-only is as accurate as the paperless office. Until a handheld can be as thin as paper, large as a magazine, be bended, rolled up, get wet but remain usable, double function as a fly-swapper, handhelds and portables have nothing to gain on printed media.

I read almost all of my books in digital form on an old Palm IIIxe. It took a bit of getting used to but it's fine now. Why do I do that? Because in the area where I live it is very hard to get English titles (I prefer to read in English vs. Dutch or French). And when I find them they are too expensive for my taste. So yes, I'm one of those modern people who has partly left print behind. But does the failure of the ebook to destroy the printed book stem from publisher's fears only? Or do people, given the choice between the cheaper ebook and the printed version, still go for the print instead?

Finally, even online it is the traditional news media I check and rely on for the very reasons Ron pointed out.

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