In case you’ve missed it Roy Greenslade and Jeff Jarvis have been debating whether journalists are to blame for not anticipating the technological changes threatening to close newspapers.

 

Jarvis took Greenslade to task for saying that journalists “cannot be held responsible for either the financial woes of the industry nor for the public turning its back on the ‘products’ that contain their work”.  A view broadly supported by City University’s Adrian Monck and Paul Farhi from the Washington Post.

 

Both agree that new media is bringing new opportunities to the industry at the expense of irrevocable changes.

 

The brass facts are that people continue to consume news, and that the internet is enabling them to consume more news, more efficiently, with more bells and whistles, than ever before.  I personally don’t see how this constitutes a threat to the journalist’s trade. 

 

News fulfils a basic need for information.  Newspapers have refined their product over hundreds of years in line with ferocious market forces.  The internet doesn’t threaten the creation of quality information or the commoditisation of that information, it is a medium which exists to order and present information.  The presentation of information is the building block of every webpage, the primary function of HTML, the internet’s DNA.

 

Print media is experiencing a seismic shift, newspapers are becoming untenable, whilst the online alternatives remain unproven and underdeveloped.  The resulting instability threatens journalists who have hitherto existed in illustrious print institutions, but it doesn’t threaten the wider role of journalism within society. 

 

Online news generation is stunted by the sheer volume of news circulated online by unprofitable print newspapers.  Their business models look increasingly archaic, but by the great generosity of their patrons they remain a lumbering barrier to entry for online ventures with potentially profitable business models.

 

The internet is changing the news business, but not the essential product, the written word.  A few papers will go bust and others will consolidate, but newspapers will survive.  Fresh information will retain its value, people will seek it out and companies will pay to advertise alongside it, whether by the pixel or by the inch.

 

For regular updates on the slow death of the newspapers try Newspaperdeathwatch.

 

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