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Newspapers Are Dying, Blog At 11 279

Posted by kdawson
from the news-that-fits dept.
The New Yorker is running a long and thoughtful piece by Eric Alterman on the death and life of the American newspaper. It's not news that newspapers are dying, but the acceleration of the process in the last few years is startling: "Independent, publicly traded American newspapers have lost forty-two per cent of their market value in the past three years... The columnist Molly Ivins complained, shortly before her death, that the newspaper companies' solution to their problem was to make 'our product smaller and less helpful and less interesting.'" The article goes on to profile The Huffington Post as exemplar of what is replacing paper and ink. "The Huffington Post's editorial processes are based on what Peretti has named the 'mullet strategy.' ('Business up front, party in the back' is how his trend-spotting site BuzzFeed glosses it.) 'User-generated content is all the rage, but most of it totally sucks,' Peretti says. The mullet strategy invites users to 'argue and vent on the secondary pages, but professional editors keep the front page looking sharp.
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Newspapers Are Dying, Blog At 11

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  • Plus Ads (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ericdano (113424) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @02:55PM (#22913794) Homepage
    The papers in my area in California are at least 50% ads. In fact, on Tuesdays, they include this ad flyer in addition to the paper. On that day, the paper is about 70% ads then.

    So, to make up for their lack of "real" content, the companies are sticking ads in there. Sad really.........I remember in the 80s that the newspaper had extremely few ads.......
    • Not only ads, but coupons. I buy the local paper for the food coupons, they save me more than the cost of the paper. The paper [democratandchronicle.com] itself sucks, and I give it to my toddler to draw on.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by maxume (22995)
      I get a free weekly newspaper that is mostly ads. So they aren't sticking the ads in their to make up for the lack of real content, they are getting paid to distribute the ads to you.
      • by ericdano (113424)
        That is different. A free paper, fine. Ads all the way. If I am subscribing, ie: PAYING, for a newspaper that is over 50% ads........then there is a problem. Knight Ridder is the parent company (or was). Since they took over the paper in 2001(?) or so, it has become an Ad fest!
  • On News (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Upaut (670171) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @02:59PM (#22913830) Homepage Journal
    The problem is, most of the Newspapers just no longer try to report news, so much as sell it, and they have all merged (thanks to Murdoch, I suspect) into one single venue, just written towards different levels.

    Right now the only papers I read in the morning are the Financial Times (which does not count as an American Paper for reports like this, right?) And once a week I get the Sunday Times from a newspaper importer. While I feel the Times has fallen harder then all the others, it still has my crossword, and gives me the Murdoch point of view for the world.

    I mainly get my news from reading the BBC website daily, and 20 minutes on Slashdot.
    • by dattaway (3088)
      The problem is, most of the Newspapers just no longer try to report news,

      This is a classic symptom of the FOX News Syndrome. It gets bad when it spreads to all media outlets. A community collapses when that happens.
    • Re:On News (Score:4, Informative)

      by Stiletto (12066) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @06:38PM (#22915682)
      Is it any wonder? Real news isn't even a large part of what passes for "newsertainment" these days. Let's take a look at and categorize the current headlines on some major US "news" web sites:

      CNN.com:

      Iraq PM welcomes al-Sadr call; curfews ending
      - News, borderline propaganda piece

      Home inspection nightmares
      - Not news. Fluff piece, mild fear-mongering

      March Madness
      - Not news. Fluff, Entertainment

      Celebrity makeup bag
      - Not news. Fluff, Entertainment

      FOXNews.com:

      Should She Stay or Go? (about Hillary Clinton)
      - Not news. Right-wing propaganda piece

      'Clear and Present Danger'
      - Not news. Right-wing propaganda piece

      'Muslims Have Overtaken Us'
      - Not news. Right-wing propaganda piece

      MSNBC.com:

      Proposal would give Fed wide new powers
      - Not news. Fear mongering (read it)

      Another jobs loss may sink stocks again
      - Not news. Editorial speculation.

      How Clinton, McCain and Obama would tackle the U.S. economy
      - Not news. Political propaganda.

      Memphis advances to Final Four
      - Not news. Fluff, Entertainment.

      USAToday.com:

      Al-Sadr pulls militia, offers Iraq deal
      - News, borderline propaganda

      CIA chief: Al-Qaeda has safe haven
      - Not news. Propaganda, fear-mongering

      'Killing Fields' survivor passes
      - News.

      Doubts raised about Vytorin, Zetia
      - Not news. Speculative, fear-mongering
  • caveat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday March 30, 2008 @03:02PM (#22913860) Homepage Journal
    no media ever dies

    television was supposed to kill both radio and the movies. well, we don't see movie news reels anymore, and we don't see radio serials either, but you can't watch tv while driving to work, and no one wants to see indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull in your parent's basement by yourself on a 19 inch monitor

    what new media does do is dramatically alter the audience and purpose of old media. so newspapers will come to see the point where their income from online content will eclipse their income from print content. so then what is the purpose of newspapers without the actual newspaper?

    one answer: trust

    like the story summary suggests, user generated content sucks. in terms of quality and in terms of partisanship. so newspaper sites will still be the place people go for breaking news and truthful reporting. you can't beat a salaried professional news gathering organzation in terms of trust. nothing the internet can spew forth threatens that

    the internet has merely created lots of partisan fiefdoms with an agenda and user venting. much of it rambling, illiterate, unhinged, and mostly useless. usless to readers, not those who vent: that's the psychological value of catharsis. that is, user generated content is usually more useful for whomever is commenting than anyone who reads the comment. this form of online content obviously isn't a threat to anything newspaper's do, merely a weird ecological tweak to how they fit into the media universe. the internet makes newspapers part of a loud room of noisy feedback, rather than the lonely ivory towers they used to be

    and so the newspaper will morph into a less prestigious role in society, but it will never die, and will still be vital in a modified way

    • Re:caveat (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @03:23PM (#22914016) Homepage Journal
      the internet has merely created lots of partisan fiefdoms with an agenda and user venting. much of it rambling, illiterate, unhinged, and mostly useless.

      So have newspapers. I was reading an editorial in the WSJ about the how successful "the surge" allegedly is, and found it to stretch things and manipulate quotes. I decided to abandon it out of frustration. While moving my eyes away, I happened to glance at the author: "Karl Rove". R. Murdoch has Foxitized it, as feared.
             
      • misperception #1:

        once upon a time, all media was unbiased and neutral. then fox news came along and made it into propaganda. really? go into wikipedia and type "yellow journalism". read up on the uss maine and why the usa went to war with spain in 1898. you think the manipulating of facts to start a war is a new invention? please! story as old as time. every regime that has ever existed has engaged in this. go further back in history, all the way to the printing press, and earlier: there never has been, and never will be, such a thing as fair and balanced media (pun intended). ever. in any country. in any era. that ever was or ever will be

        why?

        that gets us to misperception #2:

        that a neutral unbiased media is even possible. it is impossible. the media is made by human beings. all human beings are biased in one way or another. everyone has an agenda. those who claim they are not biased, or actually fervently believe they are not biased, are in fact probably the most biased of all: blind to one's own nature

        so what does one do in a world with bias everywhere? answer: they develop a good bullshit detector

        and making peace with this fact of biased media is actually a good thing, not a bad thing. do you honestly believe it is a better world where everyone just took something written by a media mouthpiece as solid gold truth, and never questioned it? isn't it better to have a well-read populace who disbelieves and doubts everything? and how do you train such a populace? you throw bias at them from every monitor and printed word, and you train their mind like a muscle to develop an extremely strong and sophisticated bullshit detector

        those who argue for censorship do so in the name of preventing the spreading of lies, from the right or the left. but when they do this, they actually show little faith in the general populace. they don't save the populace from themselves this way, they merely breed zombies and sheep. in the name of preventing lies, they create the environment for more lies. this is the true value of free speech: a darwinian competition of ideas. to let out all of it, all the bullshit, let it all be spoken. even the biggest lies and the most vile words. in this way, the general populace can decide for themselves, and you get a general populace that values critical thought. you never get critical thought in a society where unbiased media existed. in fact there is societies today where "unbiased" media exists: iran, china, russia, etc.: the places where freedoms are the least. and the people there, unfortunately, have very weakly developed bullshit detectors, and are therefore prone to the kind of pies manipulation and propaganda that makes your concerns over fox news look quaint. just look at china's one sided coverage of tibet: all they show is ethnic colonial han getting attacked. as if that is all that is going on and the tibetans aren't being attacked! propaganda. half-truth. beijing understands the idea very well

        a world of biased media everywhere is actually SUPERIOR: it trains the minds of the general public to have a healthy bullshit meter. so while some people lament things like fox news, i, as a liberal in the deepest sense of the word liberal, am thankful for fox news. because fox news serves as a cautionary tale, an innoculation device. it weans people off propaganda, by being propaganda. fox news is a training device fro stronger minds to overcome. and for all those who believe fox news 100% and look no further for the "truth": do you honestly believe that in a world of "unbiased" media they would be flower children? no. a right winger is not made. it's like being gay. their minds are just made that way ;-P
        • by jd (1658)
          I'd consider the BBC to be very close to unbiased, as it has nobody to answer to. It's not perfect, but there are no US news outlets I'd consider to be remotely close.
      • by snarkh (118018)

        First, I think you have op-ed in mind, not the editorial.

        Murdoch may have many faults but this is not one of them. The op-ed pages in WSJ
        have been notoriously conservative for a long time.

      • by gad_zuki! (70830)
        >I was reading an editorial in the WSJ bout the how successful "the surge" allegedly is

        Do you know what an editorial is?
      • by Brian_Ellenberger (308720) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @05:08PM (#22914980)

        So have newspapers. I was reading an editorial in the WSJ about the how successful "the surge" allegedly is, and found it to stretch things and manipulate quotes. I decided to abandon it out of frustration. While moving my eyes away, I happened to glance at the author: "Karl Rove". R. Murdoch has Foxitized it, as feared.

        The New York Times, LA Times, and many other newspapers were "Foxitized" well before Fox. Most of Fox News's popularity comes from people who were sick of the rest of media being so ridiculously biased in one direction.

        You know it is bad when Hillary Clinton is complaining about the general bias in media towards candidates. And somehow I don't think she is apart of the "Right Wing Attack Machine". Of course, you only complain when you are not benefiting from the bias...

        You also have to consider the effects of the out and out lies---Stephen Glass, the doctored photos from Adnan Hajj, the recent admission the LA times made that they were duped on FBI records on the death of rap murders, etc. The argument against blogs is that they are amateurs who cannot be believed, yet they seem to be the ones doing the best fact checking against the so-called professionals!

        We are lacking a maturity in our analysis abilities that allows us to identify bias both FOR and AGAINST our positions. People who lack this maturity think that everything that agrees with their point of view is somehow "in the middle" and everything else is "to the left and right". This two dimensional egotistical thinking is causing deep divisions in our country that really scare me. It's like this is some sort of sporting competition with teams and a winner and a loser. You are not allowed to have any beliefs of the "other side", not allowed to compromise or cooperate for solutions. Not allowed to understand that you have a point of view, and it may be reflected in a newspaper or TV programs, but it is not the only point of view and it is equally valuable to listen to both sides. Or to have a newspaper or news show report with a neutral point of view, to use a wikipedia term. But the media today wants to push an agenda and "tell a story" (aka "Narrative") rather than report facts. So people vote with their dollars and abandon those newspapers, because they aren't providing them with news!

        Brian Ellenberger
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ibbey (27873)

          The New York Times, LA Times, and many other newspapers were "Foxitized" well before Fox. Most of Fox News's popularity comes from people who were sick of the rest of media being so ridiculously biased in one direction.

          Damn straight. People hate it when the media is so biased in the direction of accuracy. Fox was a breath of fresh air since they weren't tied down by minor annoyances like reality.

          Seriously, while the NYT, LAT, etc. may have some bias, they have long been balanced out by their counterparts on the other side. NYP, WSJ, Washington Times, Pittsburgh News Tribune, USA Today (the most read newspaper in the US)... The irony of the grandparent is that he complains about Murdoch "foxetizing" the Wall Street Journa

    • Trust? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by argent (18001)
      Newspapers provide an illusion of trust, but too much of the time that's all it is. An illusion. The people working for the newspapers aren't all that different from the people writing blogs.

      There aren't as many total lunatics in newsrooms, maybe, but reporters and editors all have their agendas no matter how much they want to hide it, and the veneer of objectivity washes away as soon as you see a story in the paper where you actually know some of the facts, where you know enough to tell if they're objectiv
      • unbiased neutral media is NEVER possible. it's a theoretical ideal, not an actual real world achievable. all you can do is approximate the truth, come as close as humanly possible

        and so what you call an illusion of trust i would relabel as an honest attempt at trust. while meanwhile, a lot fo the free-for-all stuff you find on the internet doesn't even try to be impartial. that's a HUGE difference

        you unfairly place newspapers in the same category as outright propagandizers. a newspaper TRIES to be impartial
        • what you call an illusion of trust i would relabel as an honest attempt at trust.

          Whether they are honest or not (and you know, I hope, they aren't always honest) doesn't change the fact that the result is an illusion. I've blogged about that before... the chain from the witnesses and primary sources to the front page is often a game of telephone. The difference is that when it happens on a blog you get to see the whole thing, and can go back to find where the fellow turned "The Bugblatter Beast makes a good
          • if you insist on using the word illusion, can we ever have any better than this illusion? you seem to be pointing to the fundamental cracks in human communication. couples often have the same goals, and wind up fighting due to miscommunication. if they can't swing it, how can you expect a human organization to do any better?

            i think you need to make peace with the fundamental failings of human communication. your "illusion" is just another way to say "miscommunication exists", and always will, REGARDLESS of
            • by argent (18001)
              Can we ever have anything better than the illusion of trust?

              Sure. Not having the illusion of trust. I don't mean having real trust, I mean having a realistic appreciation of how much trust is really appropriate.

              what you attribute to malicious intent, i attribute to accident.

              In the very message you are responding to I twice made the point that there is no need for malicious intent to be present. Let me try saying that again in other words:

              Even in the absence of malicious intent, even in a world where every r
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Vellmont (569020)

        The people working for the newspapers aren't all that different from the people writing blogs.

        I don't think most journalists like to admit this, but I think you're actually right.

        The BIG difference between the newspaper writers and the bloggers is funding and resources. How many bloggers are there embedded in Iraq for instance? How many have the resources, capital, lawyers, and clout to investigate Watergate, or The Pentagon Papers? I don't recall hearing about any bloggers able to get into the white hou
        • Re:Trust? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by argent (18001) <peter@slashdot.2 ... m ['nga' in gap]> on Sunday March 30, 2008 @04:10PM (#22914452) Homepage Journal
          The BIG difference between the newspaper writers and the bloggers is funding and resources. How many bloggers are there embedded in Iraq for instance?

          Counting the Iraqi bloggers, military bloggers, and contractors?

          How many have the resources, capital, lawyers, and clout to investigate Watergate, or The Pentagon Papers?

          How many newspapers have done that kind of investigative reporting in the past 20 years? If they had been doing it a few years ago, we might not be in Iraq in the first place.

          I don't recall hearing about any bloggers able to get into the white house press room (but hey, traditional journalists haven't exactly been all that great when they ARE there).

          Not yet, no, but that's not because they don't have the resources. If it was just money someone would have bought their way in by now. It's because they're not seen as reporters, kind of a catch-22 situation.

          My point is that the bloggers aren't going to ever replace professional journalists.

          I don't know if they will be able to or not. The more interesting question is, will they have to do it anyway?
          • by Vellmont (569020)
            You can attack the individual examples all you like, feel free. They're simply examples used to illustrate a point. Bloggers are never going to have the resources of newspaper journalists. If you think they do, I don't think you have much idea how journalism is conducted.
            • by argent (18001)
              I think you have misunderstood something, or I haven't got the point across well enough, or I indeed got distracted by the examples. Though my experience with newspapers over the past 30 years has been that they seem all too often to not be making effective use of the resources available to them.

              Bloggers are never going to have the resources of newspaper journalists.

              Probably not. On the other hand bloggers have resources that newspaper journalists don't. Numbers, for one. Expertise in the material they're b
      • Newspapers provide an illusion of trust, but too much of the time that's all it is. An illusion.

        Interesting comment, but isn't the very nature of trust intangible?

        The people working for the newspapers aren't all that different from the people writing blogs.

        Individually, perhaps, but collectively, no. Reporters have the benefit of being schooled and trained, and the nature of their assignments is proportional to their competence, experience, and reputation. There's that "trust" thing, again. Add to that l
    • the internet has merely created lots of partisan fiefdoms with an agenda and user venting. much of it rambling, illiterate, unhinged, and mostly useless. usless to readers, not those who vent: that's the psychological value of catharsis. that is, user generated content is usually more useful for whomever is commenting than anyone who reads the comment.

      Thank goodness we don't have that on /. :-)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by umghhh (965931)
      I would mod you up if I could but you have your points already anyway so I comment instead.

      You are right that announced death of a newspaper is exaggerated. I do not read newspapers the way I did 30 years ago but I still do because our beloved and indispensable internet provide all information but not always it is is easy to find and when I find it it is usually not very reliable and for instance rarely describes local issues that are important to me.
      Besides I still prefer to read in depth commentaries and
  • by db32 (862117)
    As wonderful as it is that the power is returning to the people, that you no longer have to be a media titan to get the news out, I wonder if it really is going to help us any.

    Big Media - hardly anyone pays attention because so much is filtered to only provide what isn't really important or that will help keep us fat dumb and happy.

    Internet Media - hardly anyone pays attention because so much is produced by people who are fat dumb and happy and it becomes virtually impossible to sort out the crap.

    The
  • mullet strategy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by orionop (1139819)
    It sounds just like slashdot...
    only with professional editing.
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @03:10PM (#22913922)
    "The American newspaper (and the nightly newscast) is designed to appeal to a broad audience, with conflicting values and opinions, by virtue of its commitment to the goal of objectivity. Many newspapers, in their eagerness to demonstrate a sense of balance and impartiality, do not allow reporters to voice their opinions publicly, march in demonstrations, volunteer in political campaigns, wear political buttons, or attach bumper stickers to their cars."

    If you ever have seen the documentary Spin or just really paid attention you know the mainstream media including the newspaper is as far away as you can get from "objective." It annoys me that they and the nightly news toot their own horn with that BS every chance they get -- and unfortunately they are fooling a few others.

    If they want to pretend that they don't shape the news, fine, but I think that's a big reason why people are leaving in droves to get better news online.
    • ...I just don't understand it.

      As near as I can tell, the argument is this: The media is biased, say the believers, but it doesn't admit it. This is proof that media companies are either dupes or willing participants in The Great Media Conspiracy, whose aim is to keep the People ignorant. Therefore what the People need to do is to seek out media with a clear and obvious bias -- because that media is at least honest.

      In other words, the media is biased, therefore to fix the problem we need to seek out the most
  • Netcraft? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Chonine (840828)
    Has netcraft confirmed this?
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @03:18PM (#22913972) Homepage

    Of course nobody is reading newspapers any more. There's so little news in them.

    In the SF area papers, the "Food and Wine" section is thicker than the "News" section, and the "Cars" section is thicker than both together. What's the point? Especially since, if that's what you want, there are better sources for information about food, wine, cars, sports, and classified advertising.

    The whole point of newspapers is that they send people out to dig up stories, and you pay to read the results. That's fine. As advertising-delivery vehicles, they're obsolete.

    • by grumling (94709)
      "Lifestyles" sections bring in the bucks. Get your ruler out and measure how many column inches are news and how much is advertising. Now do the same thing for section A.
  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @03:21PM (#22914006) Homepage
    Well, when people graduate from journalism school, and the reason that they became journalists is to "change the world", then that's a pretty different idea from just reporting the news as it happens, yah? When the idea is to use your position to change the world, your readers will figure out your biases sooner or later. And I'm not even getting into the monoculture of ideas and poverty of thought so prevalent in the modern newsroom. Have a try at this newsroom game and see if you make the right decisions [maynardije.org]. If you fail at the game, then you'll understand why newspapers are failing today.
  • Every Sunday I get both the New York Times and LA Times delivered. I like to sit and drink coffee and read a newspaper on Sunday morning. Now, I could do that on my laptop, or desktop, or a Kindle, but here's the important quality of dead-tree based newspapers: Once I'm done reading them, their combined size is perfect to line the bottom of my rabbit's cage, and for the next week, he gets to crap on All the News That's Fit to Print.

    Until my bunny can defecate on the internets, I'll keep on subscribing to old fashioned newspapers.
  • by Morris Thorpe (762715) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @03:35PM (#22914122)
    First, let me say that I realize there is much media bias.

    However, it seems to me that people in the U.S. are increasingly divided. We want our viewpoints affirmed - not challenged. When was the last time you heard someone say or write "That makes sense. Maybe I'm wrong."

    When I worked as a reporter, I always judged my job on controversial issues by the number of complaints I got from both sides. If they were nearly evenly divided, I knew I did well. Those I offended used almost exactly the same wording except for changing x for y in their complaints.

    Maybe people are giving up newspaper for blogs because they want to hear the digested version of a story. Skip the thinking and just go to the umbrage.
    • by catseye (96076)
      I don't have much to add, but I wish I had mod points to reward you. You get it, at a profound level. The collapse of the newspaper industry is a symptom, not necessarily a cause, of a scary shift in the general public's willingness to be challenged at any level, and it's largely new media that couches its success and drive for audience by serving that destructive desire.

  • ...not sure what other hair style could represent "party all over." The reduction in the quality of the major newspapers in India over the last decade is startling. I don't know whose fault it is though - maybe sports, fashion, lifestyle nonsense and celebrity gossip is all people actually _want_ to read in a newspaper. The Times of India, which used to be pretty good, is truly shameful.
  • The consolidation of Big Media [corporations.org] over the last few decades put newspapers on this path. Americans bitch and moan about how the media is either too liberal or too conservative, but that misses the point. Americans may have allowed our government to loosen ownership rules, but we're mistrustful of a handful of companies controlling access to all news and opinions. When the mass-market Internet arrived, people realized they could find news and opinions that weren't being provided by the news oligarchs.

    People w

  • Local News (Score:4, Informative)

    by MrCopilot (871878) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @03:40PM (#22914168) Homepage Journal
    I live in a small (Pawtucket could kick its ass) rural community. If you want to know about what is going on around here there are 2 places to look, the local newspaper and the bulletin board at the local IGA.

    The Newspaper has a cute little 1995 style website, but it is less comprehensive than the paper.

    That said, I rarely care what is going on around here, and therefore buy the paper nearly never. Although I do scan the headlines at the convenience store.

    The web allows me to read the NYTimes, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Miami Herald, The BBC and a thousand blogs a week. I love new media, but Ii still respect the old guild.

  • I read 4 newspapers on a regular basis because my university has this program where students get free papers. I suppose it is to try to get them in the habit of reading them but none of my students seems to be doing so. I get the school paper, the NY Times, USA Today, and the local newspaper. First off, large percentages of their contend are the same. Same wire stories. Same sports scores, same stock prices. That same content that is already online and available for free.

    Then there is all the crap tha
  • I stopped reading newspapers because their extreme editorializing in news stories got out of hand. They can't even pretend to be objective. This is not a left-wing or right-wing specific problem. It is across the board.

    Example, yesterday I saw headlines saying the recent attack by Iraqi forces against an extremist's militia was having problems and would probably fail. That's not telling the news. That's stating an opinion. As far as I can tell, this view was based on the Iraqi request for air support
    • by grumling (94709)
      Up until after WWII, most American newspapers were extremely biased, much more than Fox News/CNN or whatever. As towns and cities saw fewer and fewer publishers, the news became much more "unbiased." In their zeal to become all things to all people, they end up pleasing no one.
    • by TomHandy (578620)
      The extremist didn't tell his followers to lay down their arms because the Iraqi forces of Maliki succeeded in anything. He told them to lay down their arms because he got what he wanted - the Iraqi government agreed to leave the Mahdi militia alone. Sadr got what he wanted, which was demonstrating his strength and Maliki's weakness.
    • by TomHandy (578620)
      And of course: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L307650.htm [alertnet.org] So basically, Maliki's government completely failed in the most important objective to actually de-arm these forces.
  • Let's Clarify. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hullabalucination (886901) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @04:05PM (#22914400) Journal

    Let's be clear here. To the New York Times and every Internet blogger who fancies themselves the Times-killer, all American newspapers are publicly-traded, big city dailies.

    Unfortunately for the Internet, this isn't even close to being true. I've personally helped start several small-town weeklies/dailies in my area (I do Websites as well, so no bias here), and although one startup over the past 5 years has folded, we've got a net gain in my county of two community newspapers over what we had in 2002. Plus one very high-end magazine aimed at folks with $100K+ annual incomes. And this is not unusual across the U.S., where small community publications are still going strong.

    The real story is that the Internet, over the past decade, has failed completely as a local news/information delivery system to the average consumer. And, bear in mind that although the Internet is good at delivering on my $1,000 computer, at much higher cost and bother, what my $30.00 radio delivers every day for little cost or bother — national/international news briefs — it's next to impossible to find out what's happening in my town on the Internet in any detail or in a timely fashion. And, lo and behold, what few sources that do exist to find out are, (are you ready, now?) those put up by — you guessed it — my local community newspapers. And those sites normally only have "teaser" versions of the story. You have to subscribe to the Dead Tree Edition to get the full story. Very clever, no?

    Now, this is not merely academic to me. I own a small advertising agency. I absolutely can not get my local businesses to do much advertising on the Web, other than building their own Websites (another interesting topic, but not for this post). Sorry, but they're just not interested in reaching folks in Botswana and Poland. Can you blame them? The overwhelming majority of American businesses (according to the US Dept. of Labor/Census Bureau) are small businesses, defined as having less than 100 employees. The much-glorified Huffington Post is completely useless to most all of my 300+ small-business clients, as is the New York Times. Without advertisers willing to spend on the Web, Web news sources will stay pretty much as they are now — Digg with the same rehashes of UPI/AP/Reuters feeds, repeated ad nauseum with posters trying desperately to add a sentence or two summary spin to the canned article hoping to reach the site's front page. Internet News is depressingly incestuous, sketchy, amateurish, and a couple of hours behind my local NPR radio station.

    What media pundits seem to be missing out on is that the American consumer is more and more interested in what's happening in his own county/town/neighborhood and less and less interested in what is happening in The Big City or on the other side of the planet. We're getting less centralized, folks. Most of the US population has been diffusing from the big cities and spreading out into the surrounding countryside for the past few decades. I'm here to tell you that the Big City Daily has been dying since the 60's, mostly due to cable television news channels and the advent of 24-hour all-news radio. I'm in a rural county just on the edge of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Sprawloplex, and we've got no less than three 24/7 all-talk radio stations who are getting their quota of advertisers, last time I checked. Plus two 24/7 all-sports stations. Yes, they stream on the Web. No, it's not an income source for most, but a loss-leader supported by over-the-air broadcasting.

    I do think that eventually, most all news will be delivered via network. In about 30-50 years. Right now, Google and the porn industry notwithstanding, nobody has really figured out how to make money off the Internet in the more localized news market, where the majority of advertisers (small business) and consumers are. We've got several itty-bitty print publications in my county that can draw enough revenue to pay for professional writers, design

    • by grumling (94709)
      Most local newspaper sites update once per day, or even less. There are several tv news sites that are starting to get it, although they are thin on content. Where they need to start to look is at the stories that don't make it to the print edition (or broadcast, in the case of TV news), and update when a story is completed, not at a predetermined time.
    • I've personally helped start several small-town weeklies/dailies in my area (I do Websites as well, so no bias here), and although one startup over the past 5 years has folded, we've got a net gain in my county of two community newspapers over what we had in 2002.

      You apparently live nowhere near me. I live in a small town and subscribe to the local afternoon daily, as well as the morning daily from a much larger city just down the highway. 90% of the "news" in the local paper is the same wire-ripped content as in the bigger paper's.

      Want to see those small papers survive? Make a nice, ad-driven website with all the local content. Forget competing on world and national news content, because you just can't. Give me RSS feeds of local news and classified ads.

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      What media pundits seem to be missing out on is that the American consumer is more and more interested in what's happening in his own county/town/neighborhood and less and less interested in what is happening in The Big City or on the other side of the planet.

      If true, this seems to me a lazy, complacent attitude. Personally, I pay the most attention to world news. I'm much more interested in finding out what might be coming than what happened yesterday.

  • This is happening to radio too, which is why the big Clear Channel buyout might not close. The buyout price is 39.70 a share, yet Clear Channel has been traded as low as 25 dollars recently-38% less then the buyout price. Recently, an FM station in Los Angeles sold for 137 million dollars-113 million less then the last one did a couple of years ago-46 percent less.

    Seems to me that this is right in line with the newspaper valuations you have mentioned.

    It's also happening in cellular-why just look at Spri

  • Of course newspapers are still relevant. Even if all they do is repackage AP stories.

    Newspapers provide context, aggregation and community. They have provided a location for discussion (letters to the editor) for pretty much their entire life. They are the proto-social news organisation.

    I expect newspapers to change, but they will still exist.

    I expect newspapers to change to offer a service where the reader is allowed to click through to the context behind a story. Stories are grouped by subject area, p
  • This is not about bloggers v professional journalists. This is just about words on a computer screen vs a words on a piece of paper.
  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @05:20PM (#22915104)
    The old, mainstream media destroyed their credibility and authority by doing five things:

    1. Dumbed down their content by turning to celebrity gossip, etc. and cutting investigative reporting.
    2. Turned to publishing corporate press releases almost verbatim
    3. Began regurgitating Reuters/AP feeds for national/international stories instead of doing original reporting
    4. Slashed local reporting in favor of the economies of scale of publishing the same news across multiple markets.
    5. The owners and editors began spinning everything from a partisan perspective.

    All of these things were done, of course, to maximize profits by cutting costs or pumping up mindshare through sensationalism.

    Online sources of news/information, however, are evolving to a quality that's much greater than what the old media ever had. Let me explain:

    What's happening with information online is happening to the process that we here on Slashdot already know works with similar public goods like Science and FOSS and Security. Let's call it "Peer Review." Yes, there's a lot of dross, but what's good quickly floats to the top.

    And there might not be a single online site where you can get top-quality information on all topics, but that's fine. "jack of all trades, master of none" and all that. But there are at least several I know of that are worth the time: Slashdot for general geek news (I love reading an article about, say, cryogenics and then seeing posts from professionals who actually work in that field); Tom's Hardware; Stratfor for political/international/international relations. There is a lot of aggregation/regurgitation from the MSM, but increasingly from the primary sources journalists wouldn't bother to check or feign to understand as well as original research.

    And if anything puff-piece-ish shows up on those sites, it almost always gets shot down in flames almost immediately. That wouldn't happen in the MSM, where the echo chamber picks up and repeats errors 10 million times so that when the real information does come out, it gets ignored because everyone's sick of hearing about it.

    If the MSM were to sit down collectively and send all their reporters, journalists, and editors to re-education at the BBC, which was and still is the best that the old media had/has to offer, then they might have a shot at relevance. But they won't, and they'll vanish, and good riddance.
  • Newspapers face the difficult situation of being the best medium for sustained, in-depth examination of some issues, while suffering from the curse of people being unwilling to pay for content that can be cut-and-pasted with one click these days.

    The act of writing a story naturally takes some intellectual talent and prolonged effort, and I would say that newspaper journalists (and even blog writers who actually do a fair bit of their own writing) are more dedicated to unearthing real stories, than most
  • The mullet strategy invites users to 'argue and vent on the secondary pages, but professional editors keep the front page looking sharp.
    So, basically the same strategy as slashdot?
  • One of the last things "news" papers seem to be reporting is their personal bad news. This trend is definitely NOT news if a software engineer could point it out almost a year ago [blogspot.com]
    anyone have a guess why NY Times dropped its "Select" subscription? I thought it could be turned into a decent on-line paper. Maybe stealing news comes as naturally to web users as stealing music and the Times just weren't making any sales at the measly $49 they charged.
    Did everyone forget that reporters and writers need to
  • ... they said it would... but they failed to mention it'd take about 30 years.
  • by Sir Holo (531007) * on Sunday March 30, 2008 @09:08PM (#22916682)
    I recently subscribed to the NY Times. Paper. It has what most if not all online outlets lack - care in writing and researching.

    I also subscribe to several paper monthlies. These are generally funded by foundations that are somewhat immune to the vicissitudes of consumer choice. If the ads dry up, they can continue to deliver well-researched articles, albeit fewer. Or they may go to an NPR-type of model.

    Most of these also have blogs, in which comments tend to be far more thoughtful than the average blog. With the immediate communication of teh internets, hot news from the higher-noise blogs can quickly find its way to every other blog. People who value their time will gravitate to those blogs with better signal-to-noise ratios.

    Blogs are not going away, but neither are the well-researched papers and magazines.
  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:36AM (#22917968)
    A big concern I have with blogs is that many tend to perpetuate particular mindsets, and run stories so filtered that they're essentially untrue or at least, highly exaggerated. People inevitably gravitate towards like-minded individuals. Despite the fact the internet can provide a wide range of views many people end up reading only what agrees with their own beliefs.

    I feel like people are getting increasingly polarized and narrow-minded and I think blogs, at least in some ways are helping to contribute to that. Get on some blogs and post even the slightest dissenting view and be prepared for a shit-storm of unimaginable proportions. They don't even want to consider an alternative.

    On a fairly regular basis I'll visit some blog where the author interprets a particular news story. And of course news is cherry-picked to reinforce that author's particular messages. And as is often the case links don't direct a visitor to the original story but rather to yet another blog which essentially is saying more of the same. Most people aren't going to bother digging for both sides of the story.

    I'll concede, however, that blogs are an immensely useful tool; they're a great alternative to the mainstream media. What I really look forward to is their continued use as a way to keep corporations, governments and other organizations in check.

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