Are newspapers dying?
I think they are. And it is not slow and protracted but rather quite fast and painful. And like any disease it’s spreading to other parts of the whole. TV and radio no doubt are feeling the pinch.
There is only one reason why. Okay. Make that two. Printing and publishing are an expensive business; Web 2.0 is not.
The new media tools are faster, more pervasive, more instantaneous reaching millions more quickly than it takes for your eyes to scan this line. Still not a believer? Look a the recent headlines. Last week when U.S. Airways jet was allegedly attacked by a "double bird strike" and the pilot forcibly water ditched in New York’s Hudson River the first on the scene was not CNN or ABC or NBC or CBS. Instead Heather Dueitt, Dennis Stratton, and Janis Krums got the scoop. Janis in particular had the world’s first and most memorable photograph taken from an angle that was almost surreal.
Click their names. Check their Twitter streams. Go back to the day. Check out the tweets at 3:30 p.m. on January 15, 2009. Google them and read the rest.
This was yet another turning point in how news is delivered. Still surprised? I am not sure why, a few days after, when President Obama was inaugurated millions, including me, tuned into on cnn.com/live. With its outreach to facebook and the live constant updates from friends and strangers, this was broadcasting at its best except this was a new medium. Live TV had shifted and the movement was seismic. The inauguration became a social/interactive experience, 136 millions viewers didn’t just watch they participated and it underscored the power of the Internet to deliver video programming to a massive number of users simultaneously.
I am not sure if the newspapers here at home get these new shifts and if they do, they certainly don’t embrace the qualities that make it unique, numbers driven. I can’t think of nay media house that doesn’t have a website, but with the exception of one, there is little social interactivity with the new tools. The Express has made some inroads but their great experiment with Interactive TV is long dead. CNMG’s interactive site is two, now maybe three weeks old. And there are no media houses with blogs. As for Twitter and using it within media fraternity, after a quick check with my friends who still write for the news, we may as well be landing Manning on the moon.
Meanwhile our best and most treasured newspapers are getting thinner. The best writers are leaving for PR and other independent pastures. And people are tuning out. There is a way to stop the bleeding but it requires foresight, quick action and willingness for old media to stop denying the existence of the new.