Why newspapers are failing

Via the indispensable Mark Potts, Bill Wyman has offered up a hefty slice of on-the-money analysis about why the newspaper industry is going belly up in Splice Today. 

Crucially, it answers a lot of the holier-than-thou criticism of internet content and punditry by purist journalists and academics. I like it when Wyman hits out at the idea that newspapers were ever anything much more than vehicles for advertising fluff:

Sure, an average newspaper did print some serious journalism. But is that most of what they did, or even anything more than a tiny part? Did newspapers crusade from early in the morning to late at night to right wrongs? Did the typical reporter spend the majority of her or her time ferreting out information that the local powers-that-be kept hidden? Did their critics focus a gimlet eye on all manner or art and pop culture, shoot from the hip, provoke dialogs about its meaning and import? Did the papers really afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted? Did each department, each day, have at least one story that took an extra step to find out some information that others didn’t want public, that didn’t come from a press release or a government official, that didn’t merely repeat warmed-over developments that had happened the day before? No on all counts.

It’s all to do with the way newspapers both exploited and were made vulnerable by their monopoly position. Well worth reading…

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4 Comments

Filed under Journalism

4 responses to “Why newspapers are failing

  1. may be you are right but still paper newspaper has their own charm.

    for example most of time i do blogging but i like to read newspaper every day during breakfast.

  2. j

    One thing the net will never be is paper. Paper IS the USP.

  3. It’s my pet theory the newspaper industry would be in trouble right now even if the internet was never invented. All that’s happened is the process has been accelerated. The rot set in when large corporations looked at some media companies and saw healthy profit margins — not understanding the complex mix of components that went to make those profits.

  4. martincloake

    You don’t have to be a purist to hold the view that newspapers were once more than just vehicles for advertising fluff. Bill Bennett hits the nail on the head when he says “The rot set in when large corporations looked at some media companies and saw healthy profit margins — not understanding the complex mix of components that went to make those profits.” There’s also a lot of purism in the constant stream of “print is dead” commentary that sees any dissent as “elitist”. The media is changing more rapidly and fundamentally than it traditionally has. We need to put the best of the old together with the best of the new to create something better – however you define “better”.

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