Paper Might Go Away, But Journalism is Here to Stay

I love newspapers. I always have and I always will.

When I was five or six years old, I learned to read by checking the National League East standings everyday…I couldn’t wait for the Buffalo Evening News to see if my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates had won the day before.

On long car rides to my grandparents’ house, my sister and I would bring big sheets of paper and make our own pretend newspaper. Ultimately, childhood dreams turned to reality as I helped pay my way through college covering sports for the Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun. My first post-college job was covering high school sports for Observer & Eccentric Newspapers. And, of course, I still love reading the paper…Sunday just isn’t Sunday without a pot of coffee and some quality time with the Free Press.

Naturally, all the recent talk about newspaper shut downs such as this column from Leonard Pitts (http://tinyurl.com/cl2ptt) or this story about Ann Arbor News (http://tinyurl.com/dj5opw) breaks my heart. My old friend the newspaper seems to be on its last legs.

One key fact haunts me, though…I first read Pitts’ column online. Two or three friends posted the story on Facebook. I learned about the Ann Arbor News shut down from a Twitter feed. Like it or not, my media habits, and the media habits of just about everyone else, have changed dramatically.

The news business has to evolve to keep pace. But, this doesn’t have to mean the end of good journalism. Bloomberg News, for example, provides fast, accurate business reporting directly to desk tops and employs some terrific professionals. Matt Roush provides prolific coverage of emerging technology sectors in his daily Great Lakes IT Report. Hampton Publishing and WWJ-AM have had great success covering the auto industry via its email publication AutoBeat Daily.

These are great examples of entrepreneurs filling a need and providing a valuable service to loyal readers. Though the transition will be painful, professional journalists will still find a way to inform, educate and entertain. The format will change, but hopefully, not the role in society. The important thing for all of us is the information, not the delivery mechanism. While physical newspapers might eventually go away, I’m confident great journalism will still flourish.

Now, I need to click on ESPN.com to see how the Tigers did in Spring Training today.

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4 Comments

  1. I understand the nostalgia of the newspaper, but if you can get news as it happens, isn’t it really news then? Not a report of what happened. That is why TV is so popular for news, it delivers information as it is happening. With tools like Twitter and CNN adopting iReporters, they are learning that sometimes, your best reporters are the people consuming the news. Granted, they aren’t always accurate, but the story gets out first. Media can’t be everywhere, all the time, but the consumers are and they can give media an edge on breaking the story first, with details and CORRECT information to back it up.

    Honestly, I haven’t read a newspaper in a while. Maybe it brings back nightmares of hand clipping newspapers every morning and having stained hands by 10 am, but I find my news on-line before I pick up a newspaper.

  2. I sort of agree with you Mike, but the industry isn’t allowing good journalists to do the job they should be doing. Too many publications are pushing reporters to do a half-assed job just to be first, kowtowing to the idea that if people don’t hear about something 15 minutes after it happens then there’s no point in doing an in-depth story.

    That’s ridiculous and I blogged on this issue today at http://www.digitalpivot.com.

    I agree there is the chance that strong, investigative, in-depth journalism could find its way to the web. However, while the technology exists to deliver an in-depth report via the web, the technology doesn’t really exist for every reader to have the same access. Besides, even if they did, who is going to sit and read a long, informative piece of journalism on a computer screen or, worse, a phone screen?

    Still, it’s not the delivery method I’m bothered by, it’s the lack of commitment to solid journalism because the industry is too hung up on delivering a fast story rather than delivering a good, fair, accurate and enlightening story.

  3. Ari, you raise great points here. I agree, there is too much emphasis on being first and not enough emphasis on indepth reporting.

    However, where there is a void in the marketplace, someone usually steps in to fill it. I believe someone will figure out a way to provide indepth reporting online.

    As for who will read long, indepth pieces on the Web, I’ve started doing that more and more, especially during the last election. I hope others do, as well, so there will be a market for indepth news, solid reporting and good writing.

    Keep fighting the fight…educators like you can have a huge impact!

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