Thursday, 30 October 2008

An "old fart" in a 21-year-old's body?

Reading back over my last few blog posts (probably something you should never do), I realised I'm covering the same ground each week, just in a different disguise. I start off proclaiming that I am wary, cynical and sceptical. Call it what you will, I'm basically reiterating that I'm not very well versed in the art of online. I then take up whatever subject has been the point of discussion that week- UGC, digital storytelling, networked journalism and so on- and I appear to talk myself round to believing that actually they're not so frightening, and I should embrace them. I vow to do so. (I warn you now, I suspect I'm about to do this one last time.)

Fast forward to the following Saturday morning, or whenever, as I sit down to "embrace" the internet and it starts again. I feel wary, cynical and sceptical. And most of all, out of my depth. Just what is going on here? I am a 21-year-old journalism student training in what I am told is one of the most exciting eras of modern journalism. So, as logically follows, this week I decided to blog on something I know about; something I'm comfortable with. The death of the newspaper. With Matthew Yeomans highlighting that after 100 years in print the Christian Science Monitor is becoming an online-only publication, and Twitter investor Marc Andressen suggesting the very same day the New York Times should follow suit, I wanted to look at how this has happened. And to confirm, to myself more than anything, that I had to move on.

But when I fished around a bit, I found a pretty confusing picture. While the latest ABC (circulation) figures for September show all the nationals with the exception of The Sun down on sales compared to this time last year, Gavin O'Reilly pointed out that newspapers are a $19 billion a year industry and global newspaper sales grew last year. While the House of Lords asserted that between 1992 and 2006 the amount of adults reading newspapers dropped by 24%, editor of the Daily Express Peter Hill said "I don't see an end to newspapers, ever." Although he acknowledged that he may be considered an "old fart" John Humphreys added "The idea of a society functioning without newspapers is simply preposterous." Screw the traditional media? Tell that to John Humphreys. Hurrah!

And then I came across this: "My gut feeling is that if I was an ambitous 21-year-old and had two job offers, one from traditional print and one from online content or distribution, my guess is that most people would take the online." Well thank you Head of Yahoo! media group John Gisby. I am an ambitious 21-year-old. And I'm a little ashamed to say that put in that situation I probably wouldn't feel drawn to the latter. Why? I suggest that in an industry that isn't sure whether its embarcing or rejecting online, it can be difficult to decide whether you're in or out.

I'm spending this blog pontificating over whether I can get involved in online journalism, rather than just being involved. Any synonims for "apprehensive" are banned from my posts from now on.


Glyn said...
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Glyn said...

The issue is that no one has the right answer at the moment. I read quite a bit this morning about UK bloggers blaming the BBC for stopping them making money like the American bloggers do.

No one has got the answers at the minute, will we lose the printed edition? Maybe, maybe not. Don't forget that Matthew said the Christian Science Monitor is printing a weekly news offering.

I certainly wouldn't like to see the death of the newspaper, but to be honest I check my RSS feeds and podcasts from the big media orgs before I read my paper.

One of the things to be sorted out is what media companies are for - are we there to tell and distribute, share or something else.

And should I have to wait until a paper or broadcaster deigns to give me what I want - that's why I love online news, when you want it.

I think these are the key issue that need to be worked out.

PS I'll have my Roget's Thesaurus on hand for you next post ;D