Posted by: Tony Carson | 3 November, 2009

Newspapers, where are they going?

One of the great shocks of our times is that newspapers, in the age of the internet, haven’t discovered a ‘model’ that will maintain their authority while turning a profit.

The new reality appears to be this: loyal newspaper readers are growing old; youth is getting their news online and they won’t pay for it.

What to do?

A little trial and error; a necessary robust online presence; a lot of closures — but it all seems so … so either/or.

Where is the discussion? Behind closed door, without doubt. But Naomi Wolf in an opinion called Renewing the News adds a measure of thought on the issue. I’ve cherry picked a few of her ideas (uncertain if she would entirely disapprove of this selective approach),

She reckons the future is us. All we need are the skills, the tools and the technology to go forth and report.

Newspapers, in order to survive, will have to abandon their top-down tone, their “we decide what’s important” sense of hierarchy, and create more collaborative kinds of documentation and feedback with citizens.

This … means creating more opportunities for citizens to document, record, curate, and edit news from their own communities.

Online news outlets will have to link not just to sources, but to live footage. As more citizens become documentarians, online newspapers will have to curate their work to reflect reality on a level of visual urgency that new readers take for granted.

News outlets will have to be interactive: they should regularly teach citizens op-ed writing, for example, so that editors can receive a truly diverse set of submissions – well sourced, well written, and well argued – from people from all walks of life.

Citizens should be able to continue to curate (organize) a news story. Newspapers of the future should help readers learn what a good source is, and what good citizen journalism requires.

She’s probably right, but it doesn’t help much in seeing how the newspapers can stay in business.

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