Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Will the public get caught in a news crevasse?

Larry Pryor, executive editor of Online Journalism Review, has some interesting observations in Newspaper Newsrooms: The Rain Forests of Journalism. (From Nov. 18, but as usual, I'm behind).

Pryor's thesis is that while newspapers have the expertise in covering news, publishers are too timid to make the necessary investments in the cyber world. On the other hand, the new Net newsrooms do not have the expertise or skill to cover the warp and weave of daily community and public affairs journalism (although they may do well in niche areas).

His concern worth some hard thought (ital. mine):

The public may become caught in the worst of both worlds: new media that covers news superficially and newspapers with eviscerated newsrooms that can no longer produce quality news. The answer to this quandary is for newspaper executives to stop figuring out "where the new medium is going" and make a genuine attempt to embrace the Internet. They need to spin off their stronger editorial and service products into separate online ventures and think creatively about how to make a buck on the Net.
Of course, the "public" has shown time and time again that it's unlikely to get "caught" -- it will just eschew both and mosey on to its own way of finding out about things; thus the growth of blogs, interconnected networks, etc. This "neural network" phenomenon has yet to full blossom, but watch out when it does.

But one still wonders if part of the answer may be to try to take provate as many media properties as possible. I believe it is possible to make a pretty good living out of the media, just not at the 25 percent to 30 percent profit levels that modern conglomerates have promised shareholders, effectively painting themselves into an ever-shrinking corner of cuts without expanding the business model.

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