The newspaper. One of the most sacred institutions of the publishing world and one of its oldest, most respected methods of knowledge gathering and collection of popular opinion, dating all the way back to the first printing presses ever created. There is something uniquely special about waking up, grabbing the paper from your front steps in your slippers, and reading about the world over a cup of coffee. Even your cat standing directly in front of your face so you must crane your neck while trying to read about a local celebration or tragedy is endearing.
For ages, the newspaper has been our way to hear the news from far and wide of our neighbors, governments, and businesses. There is a reason so many papers are called “The Herald;” it’s fallen to the news outlets to shout from the rooftops and prioritize what’s worth hearing and what isn’t for their readers.
And we’re killing them. We aren’t even killing them softly — we are forcibly wiping this age old institution from the face of planet Earth.
Why? Because the institution of the newspaper, as it exists today, can’t keep up with our desire for more information right now.
Websites like Huffington Post aren’t really the cause of this demise, even though they often take the blame and are considered inferior to traditional media publications due to their community-focused and laissez-faire attitudes. But in reality, HuffPo and similar media outlets are just an evolution of the printed newspaper. They serve the same function and many even employ a similar number of people, just not the same type of people.
Major media doesn’t break news anymore. Twitter does. Then major media reports. Social technology has scaled individuals relationships and world connections in such a way that allows for regular people to report on world events of huge importance and have their voices heard. No one has to go to school to be a journalist anymore.. if you are reading this, you already are a journalist. And so is the person next to you, or your mother, or any of the 2 billion+ social media users in the world.
So, in reality, websites like Huffington Post or TechCrunch are not killing the newspaper industry. People are — by leveling the playing field for what is newsworthy and what isn’t, and the ability to quickly satiate other people’s need for information, whereas traditional printed news media is unable to keep up.
Is this bad? I don’t necessarily think so. I wholeheartedly believe that the perspective of someone who is not a subject-matter expert can often be the most insightful, the most honest, and the most creative. But I also believe we need to think creatively about saving the newspaper industry, not simply because it is a beautiful old institution, but also because we still do need subject-matter experts to help us curate the crazy amount of content available in the world. We need people to organize the chaos, and I think this function is what is missing from the evolution of news and the news cycle.
What you can do to help:
- Curate your own newspaper about a topic you love. Try a tool like Paper.li and share it with your social networks.
- If you enjoy writing, become a contributor to online publications. Some are open platforms and simply require an account to contribute. Become a source for quality original content and raise the bar for community-sourced content publishers.
- If you own a business or are in a hiring position at your company, hire journalists in roles outside of reporting. The skill set they have is surprisingly flexible and applicable to many parts of your business.
- Use Scoop.it to curate relevant web content about a topic you enjoy and enrich it with your own insight to share with your network.
What do you think? Do you think that the dawn of a new age in journalism is a good thing or a shockingly bad one? Tell us!