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.
“the answer to the decline of the newspaper industry”
Perhaps because I joined the newspaper industry late (and left early), I never really considered it as a genre unto itself, but as simply a sub-genre of news in general — including TV, internet, radio, and other news outlets.
For me, it’s the decline of the news business in general that’s disturbing. I’m less concerned about which medium delivers the news to me than I am about the quality of that news.
Over the last few years, cable news channels have stepped down several more rungs on the ladder of news quality, favoring “news talk” shows or roundtable discussions over actual news reporting. My guess is that the popularity of reality TV has driven these decisions. Viewers would rather see hundreds of dimwitted talking heads giving their opinions about the news instead of a few dedicated professionals just telling us what’s happening.
I have a short list of news websites where I read news, and their quality is bleeding out also, as their bosses focus instead on site design, new smart phone apps, and placing as many Twitter and Facebook links on each page as possible.
In the meantime, I read stories every day from major news outlets with egregious grammar and spelling errors, headlines that don’t match the story’s content, missing information, or outright inaccuracies. I also take issue with the increasing tendency to not differentiate between news pieces and opinion pieces.
I tend to agree with Will, it makes me nervous because I think the journalist keep the politicians and big business some what more honest. Well they did at one time. Now every thing seems to have a price and a lot of integrity and character has vanished with the likes of Pete Jennings and Tom Brokaw. I grew up trusting them, as well as, Barbra Walters. I tend to be much more cynical about the news. Major outlets are the last place I read stories I love the blog sphere and they tend to follow up with more information on a story and include the sources because the have so much more to prove. I still have hope with the likes of Anderson Cooper but even now seems that real reporting is slipping into the past.
Newspapers have always depened on advertisers to make money. How does that work for newspapers online? Don’t give up on products like The Daily News. It is a great idea. Too bad this one didn’t catch on, but that hardly means it’s hopeless. Nudge me when you reply so I don’t miss it.