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March 24, 2009


Rupert Murdoch

Like the typewriter, the rotary phone, the slide rule and the long playing record, newspapers are now relics from another era. It harkens from a time when reading the latest news THE FOLLOWING DAY was considered good enough.

This became all too apparent on Sept 12,2001 when newspapers arrived at our door step with the tragic events of the previous day.

Was a newspaper really necessary? Who among us needed a newspaper to recap the events of 9/11?

Like it or not, electronic media and instant communication is putting the newspaper and its cousin, the US Postal Service out of business. In this current fast paced world, it is change that must happen.

We should not stand in its way.


Newspapers were dying long before the economy took a downturn, though. They've been complaining about the Internet since I was in college, and not realizing that they need to fix their problems and get on the ball. They have real competition and, if they can't face those facts, they're going to die and deservedly so.

The newspapers have consistently tried to "protect" their content from online searchers, refused to update the useless classifieds, and maintain the same slow cycle of acquiring stories and putting them into place. Meanwhile, they fail to sell their own expertise.

If newspapers are going to survive, they need to compete. Put archives online for free and make it easy to find. Put up free classifieds or abandon the territory to Craig's List. Give every reporter a digital camera and send them on the beat looking for local stories. And most important, show the vetting process; even if it means reporting on your own organization, show the audience that you're professionals who do better work than bloggers.

I went into depth, here, because I think that News 12 fails a few of those points, which worries me. I see too much regurgitation from the AP or Reuters feeds (or worse--celebrity gossip blogs) instead of local art galleries or charity workers. There's no decent way to find an old story, if it makes it to the website at all, and there's certainly no way to pass it along to friends elsewhere in the country.

And, as advertising goes, telling me where I can go to NOT watch you (ahem, "not on phone company TV or anywhere else"?) seems less useful than showing me your credentials and what you go through to get me a good story. Heck, when stories are given awards, why isn't that story replayed over the next weekend? Remind us why we're watching, once in a while...

And I've gone on too long, I think, by now. But that's all to say that I agree that it'll be sad as more newspapers collapse, but it's not unexpected when they continue to complain about Google, Craig's List, and blogs instead of embracing the benefits and making a case for their being better.

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