hope for the future

Newspaper industry woes deconstructed 2.0

Photo by Flickr user <a href=

Editor’s Note: I originally posted this on my personal weblog in August, 2008, but it remains relevant today, and so, with the beginning of a new year and – according to some – a new decade, I’m reposting it here with a few updates. Enjoy.

Hey, all. Here it is, your one-stop-shop for news media hand-wringing. No longer will you have to read countless bloggers, columnists and corporate journalism types weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth over the state of the industry. Just print this post out, circle your preferred viewpoint, and bang, you’re set for the forseeable future! (and, btw, realize that this is snark. If you don’t realize what snark is, then please stop reading now)

Dear (Readers/ Investors /Advertisers /Anyone?)

The Internet is the (best/worst) thing to ever happen to newspapers. It is (killing/rejuvenating) the newspaper industry in ways we (always/never) imagined. Top editors and newspaper execs (are/are not) getting involved in (innovating/suffocating) our practices on this (new/old) way of doing things.

Our newspaper reporters are (gladly/grudgingly) seizing hold of new tools to (tell stories/waste time) and (attract/drive away) readers.

All of this is (because of/in spite of) the fact that newspaper readers (are leaving in droves/are dying off/are hanging around). Sure, the newspaper industry (looks bleak/looks to have a bright future), but the real work remains to be done by (mid-career journalists/new graduates) who (haven’t been laid off/haven’t found a job yet). Just remember to (keep a positive attitude/keep sending out resumes).

Some people say that “news is a conversation.” That’s why our newspaper web site (does/does not) allow comments. We feel that comments are (a great way to foster feedback/a way to allow trolls to feed at our trough). Honestly, comments are (a democratizing force/a chaotic pain in the neck).

And we should talk about bloggers. Bloggers (can do journalism/are pajama-clad wannabes) who (aid/frustrate) our efforts to provide quality journalism. We should (welcome/abhor) the efforts of these (citizen journalists/partisan hacks) who are (cutting into our credibility/adding to the democratic debate).

Many people ask: How can newspaper journalism be saved? Simple, really. Newspapers should (close their web sites/open their archives) and (allow/disallow) the news to flow freely. After all, journalists (are/are not) central to the democratic ideal.

What about the business model? We are (working on it/praying we reach retirement soon). While our profit margins are (high compared to other industries/in the tank compared to past performance), we feel we are (turning the corner/peering over the cliff) thanks to (craigslist/ google news/ blogs/ Internet distractions/).

We are, of course, experimenting with (video/blogs/comments/social networks/maps/flash/anything that will make a buck). We’ve purchased (many/a handful/okay, one) video camera(s) to give to our (reporters/photographers/a web guru) so that we can (showcase/bury) our efforts to do multimedia. We are committed to using (all/some/none) of our resources to help our staffers. The time they spend (capturing/outputting/producing/posting) multimedia, web-based content will (come out of their current hours/count as unpaid overtime/be another unrealized expense), all in the name of (quality/quantity/something we can sell to shareholders).

This year we’re (excited/nervous/apoplectic) about these “tablets” that are going to be introduced. We (love/hate) this new format. In fact, we’ve been (planning/ignoring/hoping it would go away) these form factors since (last year/last month/last week/this morning) after reading about them in the Wall Street Journal print edition. We know Steve Jobs is an innovative thinker, and we (hope he’ll save our industry/wish he’d go away/just pray he doesn’t treat us like he did the music industry).

Our mobile (strategy/blind grasping) is moving along (just fine/like the Titanic), and we hope to soon add (an iPhone app/Augmented Reality/ Something that our consultants tell us we need / a mobile version of our site) that will allow our readers to further (get the information they need/ignore us/ curse our technology).

In fact, our media properties plan to begin monetizing mobile content (next quarter /next year /someday / after the current executives are retired).

Just know that we are always on the lookout for more (multimedia-savvy/people who can spell HTML/people who know what the hell this Twitter thing is all about) journalists to add to our crew.

Of course, our newspaper company has had to undergo (minor/major) (layoffs/buyouts) in order to realign ourselves for the future. Rest assured that this is a (temporary/long-term) (problem/solution) for our (malaise/vision). We are also (reorganizing/shaking up/randomly placing) our journalists in new (teams/groups/categories) to facilitate our web-first (strategy/desperate attempt to stay relevant).

Whatever happens, know that we (are/are not) going to be around for (a long time to come/a few more years) to keep providing you with the (quality journalism/biased reporting) you’ve (come to expect/heard about on right-wing radio/ceased to care about).

Oh, and be sure to follow us on (Twitter /Facebook /MySpace / YouTube /Digg /Reddit/) so you can get (breaking news updates/traffic /weather /an RSS feed of our news stories /links and conversation from an intern who knows what’s going on).

Sincerely,

The newspaper industry