Let’s get over the perception that newspapers are dying. They aren’t.
They’re changing and they will continue to change and evolve. The Internet allows everyone to be a journalist. It’s sort of like how the digital camera allows everyone to be a photographer.
What we are witnessing today in journalism and especially newspapers is truly transformational. For the first time, every citizen is capable of being a journalist and a “newspaper man.”
Remember the movie The Matrix? Remember how Agent Smith (the bad guy) was able to change into the skin of anyone he chose? Well, today everyone can be an Agent Smith. Actually, everyone can be a Dan Rather, Diane Sawyer or Tom Brokaw if they choose to be.
We WILL broadcast, blog, share, gossip, inform, and investigate every aspect of our lives. We WILL photograph, videotape, and write about our experiences.
I can imagine a 21st-century newspaper editor texting a father attending his son’s basketball game to report on the game and the score, transmit some photographs or a short video clip, and even interview the players and coaches.
Dad will do it all for free. He will do it out a sense of obligation, duty and personal satisfaction. But he won’t just do it for those reasons. He will do it to feel instantly connected to the community where he lives.
Will this be a one-sided report on the game? Maybe. But then again, maybe not. Imagine there are two dads at the game, and each has a son playing on opposite sides of the court and they both report.
Take it one step further. Imagine that there are dozens of citizen reporters at this game. And now imagine that the editor has an infinite news hole to fill with content.
OK, stay with me here.
The newspaper editor’s job description will also be transformed. The best ones will cultivate a “staff” of citizen journalists. They will be depended on to guard against misinformation and to “train” their reporters.
Of course, good journalism WILL remain objective. And editors will not just edit and cut and paste stories into a Quark document. They will captain both the coverage and the conversation!
Newspapers aren’t dying. The only thing that is disappearing (going the way of the dinosaur really) is the 20th-century idea of a newspaper. And from my point of view, newspaper companies, advertisers and the professional journalists who work for them in the 21st century will either evolve or die.
Personally, I’ve already stopped subscribing to newspapers. I used to subscribe to three.
There is something else, something better than a 20th-century newspaper. It’s called the Internet, and it happens to be more interesting and relevant to me as a journalist and as a member of many different communities.