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Writing Assignment: Newspaper Business, Surviving The Internet Era
Some people have come to the conclusion that journalism itself is dying, yet in reality, journalism is expanding with social media platforms and technology allowing the former audience and sources to become the reporters themselves. Those who think there is one silver bullet to fix the newspaper business are mistaken. Newspapershave almost always had multiple streams of revenue to support themselves and the future will likely not be any different. That doesn’t mean, however, that the money-making models newspapers will use on the web will look the same as the ones they have used for print. Newspapers are struggling financially, but ad revenue is predicted to recover slightly in 2011. The underlying issues are not justbusiness-driven, but include issues of structure, culture and the industrialized foundations of distributing newspapers. As a newspaper editor I will talk about some of the things that can be done in order for a newspaper to survive in this era. Even though, print itself may not survive, the organizations behind them provide value to a democratic society, often covering and providing news that blogswith more limited resources can’t always dig up.
The first thing that needs to be taken into consideration is putting web first and reporting from multiple platforms. That might seem like a no-brainer, but this fact is a double-edged sword. Newspapers are often still treating their websites as an afterthought because their advertising revenue is largely still coming from print. Atthe same time, the shift to getting more revenue from websites won’t happen until the websites are the first priority. Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University, said one of the issues is that reporters have been given a job description that revolves around a single platform (i.e. print journalist), when really journalists need to conceive of the editorial act apart from questionsof platforms. Ultimately, the word “print” needs to be removed from the role of print journalists, said Kevin Sablan, leader of the Orange County Register’s web task force. Reporters need to focus on primarily gathering information and how to present that information in multiple formats: websites, mobile platforms, social networks and finally print. The reason for this is that technology ischanging the way people consume news, and though many are still getting their news through traditional print outlets, many others are shifting to get their news through various media, such as television, mobile phones, and the web. Ryan Sholin, director of news innovation at Publish2, a company that specializes in link journalism, said journalists now have to be ready to produce journalism on multipleplatforms, whether that is tweeting a headline, uploading a video through their iPhone or something else – journalism comes in all shapes and sizes. My second option to take into consideration is for newspapers to offer unique content in print. Bradshaw’s point speaks to the idea that newspapers need to stop treating their websites as a dumping ground for print stories and treat each somewhatindependently, carefully selecting the stories better suited for each media. What this looks like is having the physical newspaper focus on less time-sensitive news and instead more analytical stories, said Mathew Ingram, communities editor of The Globe and Mail. This also means adding context to news that has been posted, shared and retweeted online. The same concept applies to the web, which NiemanJournalism Lab contributor Gina Chen points out, needs to offer more than just news, but services and resources for readers in that community. The last thing is communicating with readers, it doesn’t make sense for readers to not be able to comment on news stories online, but yet many newspapers still either don’t have the feature on the site, don’t use it, or have various rules to which stories...