It’s Time

I have watched on twitter and reading other blogs about the demise of print news publications for too long. I decided to start one today when I got into a good twitter discussion with a talented Texas Tribune reporter about whether news media organizations should share their news. An earlier tweet from his coworker told me they had taught the next generation journalists that keeping news to yourself was “evil”. See the post here.

The time is now for newspaper people to start standing up for our medium. I own a group of newspapers in Texas and although my newspaper is not your typical daily (we are monthly, free , and mailed) my belief is that the newspaper business is not dead or even dying. Thus the new blog.

There is no question the newspaper industry needs to change course. I believe it is a simple refocus on the fundamentals. What we don’t need is a bunch of “new media only” folks who have never built a successful, profitable news model telling us what we should be doing. Quite frankly, the only news models that I have seen that are online-only can’t produce a steady profit and have only damaged journalism jobs.

I am sure I will later discuss the non-profit models (which I think have a chance) but if it is about making money – I am not a believer in the new media only model. And my belief system is not based on gut. It’s based on experience.

No question that sometimes I feel like Ken Olson who once said “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home” when I say Print Aint Dead. But I still think printed newspapers can deliver a stronger voice with the right distribution and can produce the best return on investment for the advertiser. We just need to go back to the basics.

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1 Comment

Filed under Its not over

One response to “It’s Time

  1. Hey John,
    I’m glad to see you’re starting this blog, I think this is an incredibly important topic and we are at a monumental fork in the road right now on where journalism is going to go.

    Regularly I will see friends tweeting or commenting with LOLs as Rupert Murdoch tries to lock down his content, and frankly I find it very insulting. To have people tell you to your face they would never pay for what you work hard to produce is cruel. I’m not sure if they think it’s the news fairy that goes through documents, interviews sources, writes FOIAs and listens to police scanners, but the fact is, a lot of hard teamwork goes into creating news. They want to consume the product, but refuse to pay for it and frankly, it’s as much the media’s fault as it is consumers. The media should have been spending the past ten years figuring out a revenue model for the web. Instead, they chose a band aid solution of just throwing all their content online for free because it was becoming an arms race to get on the web. Then consumers learned that, not only could they get news for free, they could continue to ask for more. They didn’t just want the news anymore, they wanted it archived back for years, and they wanted video, and they wanted multimedia and social sharing and live video and podcasts. The technology and abilities we have for journalism nowadays are staggering, but they can’t run without funding and that’s what newspapers and news stations forgot. Pardon me, but I’m not content with the idea that journalists should be like social workers.

    I think citizen journalism is great, it has uncovered stories reporters would never have found and is usually reported faster and more creatively. However, don’t be confused that a citizen journalist comes with the same qualifications as someone who is trained in law, communication and civics, has the time to ask questions and flip through affidavits and police reports, and much more. Not to mention that in the race against the mainstream press, citizen journalists are often willing to compromise ethics, fail to verify information and spread rumors. It is not the ability to publish alone that makes you a journalist. Sorry, bloggers. There is something to be learned from the “new media only” folks, but I think their deep love for new media often blinds them to some of its faults.

    I’ve played on almost every side of the this equation now, working for a newspaper, a TV station and web-only products and I can tell you it’s not easy for ANY of them acclimating to the market today. They have to realize that while journalism has some sacred qualities, it isn’t so sacred that it’s free from having to sell.

    I still think ImpactNews has some incredible web potential to be tapped and there are a lot of ways to attack the hyper local market.

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