Sunday, September 28, 2008

The New Face of Newspapers

Looking into the future of newspapers
Photo by Jana Werner, ©2005 Endeavors magazine

An article in the August/ September issue of The American Journalism Review predicts the death of newspapers sooner than we think. The Internet has not only tapped advertising and classified revenues it has provided a platform for obtaining news with no startup costs, no distribution costs and no barriers to entry. The Internet allows for specialization, a luxury media outlets with mass audiences cannot afford. And with specialized content comes specialized advertising. What could be more appealing to an advertiser than the ability to target the relevant market without wasting coverage? In order for newspapers to compete, they need to market a point of differentiation from the blogosphere. Their unique selling point, which advertisers cannot deny, is their image as a trusted source for public affairs. According to the article, in order to survive, newspapers of the future will have to contextualize the news, with a stronger focus on news analysis and investigative reporting - “content that gives them their natural community influence”. The mass audience has already migrated to the Internet. Newspapers can now “jettison the frivolous items in the content buffet” and retain their image as opinion leaders. They now need to aim at the “the educated, opinion-leading, news-junkie core of the audience” – Lippmann’s ‘cognitive elite’ if you will. If this prediction holds true we can hope for more high-brow content in our daily papers.

1 comment:

M. Dery said...

Intriguing. But you need to do more than merely synopsize someone else's article (i.e., ideas). You need to engage with those ideas: affirm them, challenge them, extend and complexify them, whatever, through your own comments and links to relevant articles, blog posts, and so forth that contradict or confirm their assertions. BIG Question: When newspapers as we know them dry up and blow away, where are Net publications going to get their news? Also, if the "Internet allows for specialization," niche-marketing to select demographics, how can we know that any of those demographics will be interested in hard news or investigative reporting, when the media diets of middle America seem to be trending away from news, toward opinion or even entertainment? (Or are they?) "And with specialized content comes specialized advertising." Yes, but what sort of advertiser supports hard news and investigative reporting? Historically, advertisers are controversy-phobic, and investigative reporting eats controversy for breakfast. More, scattered thoughts: "Their unique selling point, which advertisers cannot deny, is their image as a trusted source for public affairs." But don't recent studies show that mainstream journalism is less trusted than ever? Consumers trust commentators who speak their ideological language over supposedly "objective" journalists, don't they? Or do they? These are few of the questions I was eager to hear you ask---and answer. Also, if newspaper will aim onlt at "the educated, opinion-leading, news-junkie core of the audience," doesn't that doom them to microniche status as the house organs of a vanishingly small, well-educated elite in a country where only 29% of the population holds anything higher than a high-school diploma? Food for thought...