Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Can Newspapers Survive in the New World of Journalism?

Joel Brinkley, the Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professor of Journalism, is moderating the Symposium “Pressing Times: Can Newspapers Survive in the New World of Journalism?”

I spent an evening at a crowded Stanford Cubberley Auditorium, at the 41st Annual Carlos Kelly McClatchy Memorial Symposium “Pressing Times: Can Newspapers Survive in the New World of Journalism?” moderated by visiting Journalism Professor Joel Brinkley.
There were four panelists: Bill Keller, Pulitzer Prize winner and Executive Editor of the New York Times, Harry Chandler former executive at Los Angeles Time, Marissa Mayer from Google, and Gary Pruitt CEO of The McClatchy Company, a newspaper and Internet publisher headquartered in Sacramento, California.
All thought the printed newspaper would survive. None claimed to know what the medium will look like down the road. So much for visions and innovations. I was expecting a bit more.
Marissa Mayer, vice president at Google and in charge of search products and “user experience”, suggested that the future of journalism may lie in the hands of MySpace and Facebook reporters. They write first-hand reports that could be edited and aggregated by citizen journalists. (Bloggers, that is.) Ms Mayer didn’t add anything more than confirm that Google is not a publishing company, but aggregating, data mining and filtering of information.
Hm… More consumer oriented news sites like Google News, individual.com and crayon.net, where users can adapt the information flow from their own preferences and filter out all that they think is unnecessary or don’t like, will certainly increase the fragmentizing and polarizing between different groups in society. It will create conformism within these groups. Bad for democratic society, in my opinion.
Gary Pruitt, CEO of McClatchy Company said that “There’s a big print audience still in existence here. That’s not the profile of a dying industry.” He was quite optimistic and had, I think, done his homework well. He pointed out that the newspaper industry must be willing to adapt to new technology. (So, what’s new?) He pointed out that newspapers have survived the telegraph, the radio and the television, even though analysts warned about each new technology would harm the traditional print newspaper.
Well, it had impact. 80 percent of all news papers in the U.S. did not survive, and part of it is new technology that changes the business model.
Bill Keller, Executive Editor of The New York Times, said that Wikipedia got most hits after the Virginia shooting. Interesting. “There is stuff going on out there, and if we don’t understand it, it’s not just the newspaper industry that suffers.”
Harry Chandler of the L.A. Times, whose family recently sold its stake in the Tribune Co. to billionaire Sam Zell last month, was pessimistic. I was surprised of his complete lack of vision. He suggested outsourcing reporting jobs to India and ratings of news media, like the television. Stupid idea. Television is entertainment – news papers are a different issue.


Blogger David said...


I was wondering if you could comment on the following:

If bloggers are taking market share from newspapers, why don't newspapers buy the bloggers out or hire them? If a blogger in a given local region is generating significant traffic to his site, I would say that it is a sign of talent on the part of the blogger and the local newspaper should hire him. The blogosphere offers an excellent opportunity for newspapers to find journalistic talent, does it not?


12:07 AM  

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