saving newspapers – off the top of my head edition


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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8 Responses

  1. “it’s just that I do believe that where there’s a desire for a product, said product usually shows up.”

    (Caveat: provided there are reasonably low barriers to entry). Witness:

  2. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Very true, Mark. Barriers to entry are a problem, but often those barriers exist in an industry like the news industry because the old guard wants them to exist, not because they should or because they’re natural, etc.

    “The Most Dangerous Game” leaps to mind, by the way. Pirate hunting? What next? Shooting wolves from a moving helicopter? (I kid, I kid…)Report

    • I’m not sure why I put that caveat in there, to be honest. It wasn’t really relevant. Actually, it more supports your point, with which I think I agree. What this Internets thing has done has been to virtually eliminate the barriers to entry in the field of journalism, both legal and economic. Whether this is a good or bad thing involves some pretty big tradeoffs, but I think in the end, they’re well worthwhile.Report

  3. Avatar mike farmer says:

    Yes, very well done.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    There’s a book out there worth telling your local library to hold for you:

    _It’s Not News, It’s Fark_

    The first 90% is a laugh-out-loud comedy book perfectly suited to airport reading. The last 10% is one of the most serious discussions of the failings of mass media (including reliance upon horrid forms of advertising) I’ve seen anywhere.

    Check this book out. It totally talks about this.Report

  5. Avatar richard says:

    99% of most of what passes for news on the internet is parasitic. most of it is commentary on news stories broken by the msm. the internet is feeding on its rotting carcass. the death spiral for newsapaers has accerlated with the recesssion. how many internet sites make money? another problem is credibility. ease of entry is a two edged sword. the availability of a couple of million opinions can lead to a couple million versions of the truth or readers flocking to communities where their own ideas, prejudice or views are reinforced in a virtual bubble. i love the variety of opinion i read everyday but i find that the manipulation of facts can be very high.Report

  6. Avatar richard says:

    well it appears the washington post has come up with another way to enhance revenue and stay afloat.Report

  7. Avatar Moff says:

    We had an interesting (and long-winded) discussion about this on Gawker the other day, and I’d just reiterate here that newspapers need to do a better job with customer service, which goes hand in hand with acting as part of a community and not an adjunct institution. And I think part of that means rethinking the standard news-outlet website design and using the powers afforded by new media to be more responsive and more communicative in general. It’s pathetic what most papers’ sites’ front pages look like. Any j-school layout instructor worth their salt would be appalled—there’s just way too much going on. The design paradigm there needs to be entirely streamlined. And why the hell aren’t there basic, simple features like a “tip list” link in the top corner of every page, which takes you to a page where (1) readers can submit story ideas and (2) other readers can vote on them?

    And you’re right about community being essential, E.D., but it’s not that hard to do; it’ll spring up if a paper provides and promotes interactive options like comments and forums, and offers a modicum of moderation and maintenance. It is hard to do well, and I think papers would be well served by finding ways to foster worthwhile discussions and subdue unhelpful ones. It’s pathetic, frankly, the unmoderated drivel that infests the comment sections of a lot of papers’ sites. It’s also pathetic that more reporters and editors don’t engage with the intelligent comments, either by commenting back or in a new post. There’s still a very old-media mind-set among many journalists using new media: Once you file the story, you’re done with it.

    And I see no reason we couldn’t scrap the old inverted-triangle news story nearly entirely and replace it with blog posts. Blogging is where the future of opinion writing lies (or where the present of it lies, actually), but it can be where the future of harder news lies, too.Report