When Does it End?

It must be getting difficult for those at NewspaperDeathWatch.com to keep up with all the paper closings throughout the country. They added the latest, the distinguished Ann Arbor News to the list today.

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(See the full story in Editor & Publisher story, here.)

I can’t help but shudder for the dismal future of a world without newspapers. Will people notice what they had when they are all gone? Will they be intelligent enough to care?

As I watch my friends take pay cuts and fear for their careers (I fear for mine as a journalism educator, too), I am having a hard time seeing the silver lining.

Yes, new media is the future for journalism. But who is going to pay for it? How will it be done?

After completing my master’s degree in community journalism at the University of Alabama, I was convinced of one important truth: hyperlocal is the key.

When we go to the Web for information, we expect it to be personalized. Hell, even my Yahoo! mail page knows what’s on my mind and what I need to know.

So, OK… We need personalized content delivered through the Internet. But who is going to write it when all of the reporters are gone? And who is going to pay for all this hyperlocal news? Certainly not anyone who is used to getting their news for free.

Journalism cannot die. It just can’t.

But it will take on a new form. Most likely, that form will consist of hyperlocal niche publications with targeted advertising and content.

And somebody will figure out how to pay for it. But until they do, what will happen to all the good journalists in the world?

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1 Comment

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One response to “When Does it End?

  1. Jeremy

    That one line reminded me of the Gerald Ford biography, “Write It When I’m Gone.” So, newspapers, in this analogy, are Gerald Ford.

    For a slightly more hopeful take, see Clay Shirky’s piece here: http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/newspapers-and-thinking-the-unthinkable/

    We’re at a crossroads, experts like to say. But the problem right now is that those roads haven’t converged yet. We’re going to have to slog through some dirt, swamp and grit to get to the next road.

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