Two years ago I saw a television ad for what I thought might be the answer to the decline of the newspaper industry, The Daily.com. The Daily was the first all-electronic “newspaper,” a product produced and delivered entirely for tablets like the iPad and Kindle Fire, and by extension, smart phones.
I thought this was a brilliant idea. I thought surely the problems of printing on paper – the cost, the lack of interest from younger people, the growing irrelevance of a product updated once a day or less – would all be addressed in this sleek new concept.
I believe, as do most journalists, that without real, dedicated, professional journalists and a vehicle for disseminating their product, freedom and democracy itself is in danger. After all, when an oppressive regime takes over a region or nation, what do they do first? Take over the news media.
I write this as yet another national breaking news story is unfolding, and I can tell you exactly where I got this news first: my phone. And I didn’t pay for that piece of news. I surfed around and found it on a free site (in this case NBCnews.com, but if it wasn’t there, I would have gotten it from CNN or CBS or some other outlet.) I don’t, however, regard television with much higher regard than I do non-media like Twitter and Facebook. And as much as I liked The Daily.com and supported its ideals, I did not subscribe. I guess my own idealism is just that, idealism. Am I fundamentally hypocritical about how I get my own news?
Where does this leave newspapers? If not from the so-called Fourth Estate, where can we get accountable, reliable, in-depth news reporting? I will ponder this as I examine where my own life and career lead in the coming months and years.