Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Another news media turning point

Here's further evidence of the shift from old media to new media.

Yesterday's New York Times carried a story about a Boston community newspaper that has begun running blog items in print.

Until now, newspapers ("old media") were considered the legitimate news source that provided content for "new media" web sites to disseminate.

With the Boston development, news now originating on-line is being legitimized by dissemination through print, the "old media."

The reversing trend is certain to continue until the newspaper-reading public fully migrates to on-line information.

Some of the reason for the reverse flow of information is found in the observations of John Wilpers, the editor-in-chief of BostonNow, the free-distribution daily that is printing the blogs. He says, in the words of the Times' article, that in publishing the blogs he is addressing "the news industry's biggest problem: an inability to connect with the communities it covers."

That's worth rereading...a newspaper with an "inability to connect with the communities it covers." How, one might ask, does a newspaper cover a community it doesn't connect with?

In the new digital age, the "inability" is the direct result of falling newspaper revenues leading to newsroom cuts. So newspapers are turning to free, on-line (and amateur) reporting.

In return, the news bloggers get additional exposure for their sites and keep the rights to their material. According to the Times story, they also get press credentials (or legitimacy through access to sources) and advice on how to increase traffic to their sites.

In the short run, the papers' principal obligation is maintaining quality control and the integrity of what they print.

In the long run, this latest development is simply a stopgap until the screen technology matches the portability and former profitability of newspapers and drives "old media" out of business.

At the rate newspapers are losing readers and revenue, "the long run" should be no longer than five years.

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