WaPo on the Future of News

20 Jun ’06

WaPo has an excellent series on the future of news. Most troubling quote:

“The question no longer is whether the newspaper will endure, but whether the kind of news that is essential to a functioning democracy will survive,” says Melvin Mencher in the current Nieman Reports, one of many places where journalists are worrying over the future of their profession.

That news, the kind that reveals secret prisons in Eastern Europe or government eavesdropping on telephone calls or the danger of badly built levees in a hurricane-prone area, is expensive, takes time and causes trouble. The audience for it is sometimes small and it’s not easy to sell to advertisers. Right now, almost no online news sites invest in original, in-depth and scrupulously edited news reporting.

There are three articles: here (“Web Users Open the Gates”), here (“As the Internet Grows Up, the News Industry Is Forever Changed”) and here (“Web Site Starts From a Memo, Gains Millions of Readers”).

Update: One of the pieces explores the impact that the democratization of content creation is having on the news business. There’s no question that the proliferation of technology – whether it be cameras, camera-phones, or blogs – is transforming the collection of information. But still and all, I get most of my “news” from the websites of mainstream media – and I don’t see anything on the horizon that could change this. It’s true that the web has exploded the geographical monopolies that have protected mainstream news organizations, and that it has concentrated brand power in the hands of select individual contributors able to attract their own audiences, but I’ve come to believe that it won’t – at least not for some time – seriously challenge the mainstream media’s advantages related to quality of content.

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