Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Future of Newspapers?

How's that for a title, eh? Makes you think I'm going to go all crazy analytical, right? Makes you think that I'm going to drop some mad serious statistics about times to come, right?

Sorry, bub.

Nope, this entry will contain only a couple of points. I haven't conducted any rigorous research, tested this out on any focus groups, or attended any workshops. I've just given it some thought. Here and there. Now and then.

Newspapers will survive. In what form, I don't know. They certainly can't thrive as exclusively paper products. They have to concentrate on the content -- the articles, reporting and writing -- that attract readers. They should pay less attention to whatever medium conveys that message.

Newsprint won't disappear. Neither will Web sites. Learn to use them both.

We have to be prepared to learn and change. We can't expect that everything we see in the newspaper world today will survive. Some newspapers will close. Some jobs will disappear. Some positions will change. But none of this affects the need for good journalism, or the qualities that make good journalism what it is.

The more we fixate on the transitory business shake-ups, the less we're able to look to the long term. So learn what a blog is. Learn how to use Web publication software. Learn why people use the Web for news.

And keep your head. Media folk love to panic. But to preserve what makes newspapers good and lasting, they can't panic. They have to focus. They have to have fun. They have to not take themselves so seriously.

Things will change. But when have they not changed? Enjoy it.