GrokSurf's San Diego

Local observations on water, environment, technology, law & politics

Why newspapers are failing

Posted by George J Janczyn on October 19, 2009

Bill Wyman has written an outstanding analysis of the state of the newspaper industry in his article Five Key Reasons Why Newspapers Are Failing. In describing the economic/business reasons for newspapers’ decline, he reserves some criticism for management, editors, and writers alike for having avoided building an effective online presence. He advocates more of what is only now being realized: newspapers need to become the focal point for all local issues, not just print occasional hard-hitting local stories. They need to create must-read local blogs. They must become hyper local.

Wyman makes one point I don’t agree with, though, and that’s in advocating that headlines in the print editions, limited by space, should be changed and expanded in the online versions in order to be more descriptive. I’ve found that some newspapers already do this and consequently had trouble finding a particular story because the citation I had was a headline from the print version while the online version had a different headline. I think such a practice poses problems for anybody who needs to cite a story for their review or research publication, for databases such as Lexis/Nexis containing the story, and for libraries that may need to catalog it. Scholarly citation of web-based documents is difficult enough as it is, and morphing titles certainly won’t make it better. I would liken the effect to that which would happen if it occurred with books and movies. Better to make more thoughtful use of keywords, categories, and tags.

Otherwise, I consider Wyman’s piece to be necessary and worthwhile reading for anybody who thinks about the survival of newspapers in an internet-based information age.

One Response to “Why newspapers are failing”

  1. GrokSurf said

    Coincidentally, today there’s news that the New York Times is cutting 100 newsroom jobs: http://blogs.reuters.com/mediafile/2009/10/19/new-york-times-job-cuts-read-the-memo/

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