Hello reader. If we haven’t already acquainted ourselves, I’m the digital age of information. I stream, tweet and tag. I give you the quick and dirty, the obsessive-compulsive and follow-this-link news that gives you more information than you needed – assuming your brain can filter through the pop-up and flashing banner advertisements. I’m here to provide for you the neurotic need of checking three news organizations’ websites before you’re satisfied with the end result, and best of all, I’m free.
In 2007, a group of political editors and journalists working for The Washington Post saw this digital-age persona as a friend. While some writers procrastinated their future requirement of creating video or posting additional content in a blog, the journalists who grabbed the new media and slugged it over their shoulders are now working for the web’s most entertaining political website: Politico.
What’s even more surprising to our morbid opinion on the downfall of print journalism is that this news organization is making money – and I bet that’s making some of the still-employed journalists shift uncomfortably in their seat.
Politico likes to call themselves a web-based news organization that just happens to own a paper. On a recent trip to Washington D.C., I saw most of those papers gone by mid-afternoon; you were lucky to get one at all. Their system’s not perfect (i.e. pushing the Obama administration’s goals to the forefront, inexperienced yahoos running around with cameras), but they’ve mastered the one question print newspapers are struggling to answer: What do you want to read?
What do you want, you spoiled brats of constant-update, breaking-news junkies? How do I make you pay attention to the important stuff you need to know? Editors and publishers are sweating at their neck collars trying to figure it out.
As one of those zombie, need-news-now consumers, I would venture to answer your question with a simple request: stop fighting your readers.
Print journalism cannot compete because it has lost its goals. The few who are still surviving serve a special need, whether it’s a hyper-local daily paper in a small town or an alternative weekly the hipsters turn to for band interviews. But how can you expect to be a daily statewide paper trying to serve the same goal when you’ve chopped up your newsroom and continue to play a pity card how your profession is dying? It’s sink or swim, boys, and if you’re not at least making a splash in the water, how do you expect to overcome the waves?
I’ve talked to too-many jaded reporters who see the internet as the apocalypse of news, and what’s even more ironic, is the man who is destroying unbiased information is the one trying to sustain print journalism. Engrossed in swallowing the New York Times and pushing right-wing pundits to celebrity status, Rupert Murdoch has launched the city edition in the Wall Street Journal for New York.
If you’re feeling unemployable lately, come and hang out with the new journalists joining the jungle with some valuable tools.
Oh, and have you met my new friend, multimedia?