New media, old media, newspapers and the future–Will it matter in five years?

For the first time in a long time I bought a newspaper this past Sunday. I sat in my nice, comfy, new office chair and read the whole darn thing. I think I remember one article. I think I learned only a couple new things and, as Don Dodge and Mark Evans point out, that stuff was the local, hyper-local information:

Newspapers should go hyper-local. Focus on local news, school sports, local businesses, and local people. Radio, TV, and the web can’t do local reporting as well as the newspapers. Newspapers should play to their strengths. Provide the best classified advertising rates, and make it easy to place and monitor ads online. Local newspapers should be THE source for local search results…which I believe is The Next Big Thing in search. Take a look at CitySquares Online as an example of how to do local search right. The newspapers should be doing this…and more. Source: Don Dodge

So what do newspapers do to survive other than cutting employees while making the remaining employees work harder by having them write for the newspaper and the Web, as well do podcasts and blogs. The Toronto Star, for example, has decided to drive even deeper into local coveage – a pragmatic move given the Web still doesn’t do local well, including local search. On May 28, the Star will launch an improved – and physically slimmer – local section featuring new type and a focus on Toronto news. It will also put more local news on the front pages of the paper. To its credit, the Star also has an aggressive online unit, including a new social networking/recommendation service called Our Faves. Source: Mark Evans

Then we come to the whole debate of blogger as journalist (which, btw is heading to court in Hawaii very soon). Sounds like Renee was treated to a pretty amazing panel recently. Scoble, Dan Gillmor, Katie Hafner and Andrew Keen. Yeah a verbal grudge match was almost guaranteed. Although Renee said no blood was spilled or duels challenged, I think the discussion, however civil, sounded interesting. Personally, I haven’t heard Dan Gillmor enough yet. I hope I get to hear him speak more. By all accounts, I think Dan defended the blogger honour rather well. While Andrew Keen laments that since everyone can publish, how do we know what is good. Katie, and others, spoke of the binary relationship many people have with “the news”:

Katie references a trip she took to Louisiana where people she interviewed lumped all media together…..whatever gets printed is all evil, all fabulous, completely true or not true at all. That has been my experience as well, a far cry from the beliefs in Silicon Valley and higher education centers, another point I feel is left out of many of these conversations.
Keen and Gillmor agreed on one thing, as did the rest of the panel and it appeared, the audience as well: the need for a whole new kind of media literacy. “We have to do it,” asserts Gillmor. “We need to learn how to use a BS meter in a completely new way.” Source: Down The Avenue

As I reflect on this whole idea. That people need better BS detectors and how will you know if something is “right” or “good”. I’m struck with the feeling that we’ve heard this all before. I bet Gutenberg had the exact same trouble. When the Church didn’t control the flow of the written word and information, well how could you be sure that people were getting the “truth”. Of course this begs the question, was the Church spreading the truth and by the same token is today’s traditional media giving us “the truth”?

Of course the arguments aren’t as black and white, cut and dried as this. The nature of truth is something too slippery for this mere blog. What is important, as this post is published on the One By One Media blog and the Mediasphere Radio blog, is to see that the creation of media, the dissemination of information, has forever changed. Five years from now, then, will this debate matter? Will newspapers become fully electronic entities, instant information aggregators that we read from thin, Internet connected tablets on our way to the “office”? The technologies are getting to the point where this isn’t as much science fiction as “when will this become a reality”. Maybe when the “newspaper” become connected to the world of rapid publishing, maybe then it will have another heyday.

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  1. Tom Hunt says:

    I was there Sunday. Right after I suggested that a BS detector was necessary for both the NY Times and Scripting News, I, also, thought about bringing up Gutenberg’s transition. I didn’t because, once started, I will go on for hours about this topic. Gutenberg probably didn’t imagine something like Don Quixote would come out of his work. It seems obvious that those of us who grew up with books and newspapers can’t see how things will work when people who grow up with the internet are in charge.

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