Pew: Newspapers Circling The Wagons

Maybe now or never for figuring out the Net

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The newspaper industry is at a crossroads, and a fresh report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism confirms this beyond all doubt.  What’s interesting is that industry experts have a hard time agreeing on whether the intersection is good or bad, and whether to praise or blame the Internet’s role in shaping it.

Case Leaves Blogger
 Newspapers Stressing The Local
(Photo Credit: Journalism.org)

Even though 85 percent of daily papers made layoffs within the last three years, a full 43 percent of editors believe "web technology offers the potential for greater-than-ever journalism and will be the savior of what we once thought of as newspaper newsrooms," according to the report‘s introduction.

Here’s another pair of conflicting stats: more than half of the study’s 259 participating newspapers cut back on foreign and national coverage, but 56 percent of editors feel they’re putting out better products now than three years ago.

And finally, only five percent of newsroom executives "said they were very confident of their ability to predict what their newsrooms would look like five years from now."

Look for more attempts at monetizing online content as newspapers try to figure out some way to survive.  The recession may speed up their timetables, too, if people decide getting gas and food is more important than receiving a daily, dead-tree update.

Pew: Newspapers Circling The Wagons
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  • http://zimmer.csufresno.edu/~jahenson/ Jim Henson

    It is interesting to note that none of the editors and none of the executives mention content as a component of this downslide. Academic Journalism Departments increasingly direct their graduates to be "agents of social change" rather than simply reporting on events. This leads to news articles that are more opinion than fact. In addition local newspapers accept feed from the Associated Press (a monopoly) and the New York Times without culling out the bias or the  opinions of the authors.

    The Internet has opened multiple new channels for the flow of information, so biased reporting and articles intended to promote "social change" as viewed by the authors are no longer accepted in isolation. Facts can be readily checked, other viewpoints can be considered, and the quality of the reporting can be easily determined.

    So, I feel that newspaper readers are becoming less and less inclined to trust newspaper articles as written. Consequently, the relevance of newsprint news is declining largely due to the lack of quality in reporting, and the lack of neutrality.

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