Thursday, October 02, 2008

New respect for news bloggers -- and worries about the future of print

I had a plan. I had taken an interest in a local issue and I had corresponded with one of the attorneys handling the court case and I'd blogged about it on another blog under another identity.

The matter was up in court again recently and I thought I would go sit in on the hearing and blog about it again. I took careful notes, picked out a number of possible quotes to use, collected information about who was present and why. Yes, I thought, I would write a post that very evening and scoop the world.


One of the news blogs I follow daily had the ruling before I got back to my office: Someone had texted the gist of the court's ruling from inside the courtroom and three follow-ups were posted while I took the train home. That other blog had a link to the AP story about the court hearing before I sat down again at my computer to compose a lede.

I subscribe to the Chicago Tribune; I buy and read the Chicago Sun-Times every day that I take the train. I like newspapers -- but both Chicago newspapers are shriveling away before my eyes. The Tribune just launched a makeover that's trying to use larger photos and more color to cover up the shrinking number of pages devoted to actual news.

I don't see how newspapers can compete with the kind of instantaneous reporting that I recently witnessed firsthand. I suppose online editions will survive... or they might... if the publishers can figure out how to build a revenue stream that will replace print ads. But that's another thing I don't see happening: You and I use pop-up blockers and spam filters and all sorts of other tools to filter out what we don't want in order to zero in on what we wish to read. An ad here or there, or even ads here and there, may liven up a web page -- but a print newspaper has a news hole these days of what? 20%? 30%? Less than that, maybe, when special ad sections are taken into account.

A couple of the regulars here have ties to the newspaper world as well as to blogging. Just to name a few: Patti writes Late Bloomer Boomer, but her day job is with the New Haven Register. Linda's blog, Are we there Yet? is linked on the homepage of the Norwich Bulletin. Lois, of Home Fires, does a lot of freelance writing.

Is this the way it will go, then? Everyone can blog, but some blogs will build and build and become collaborative enterprises and replace (or largely supplant) newspapers as we now know them? Is the Huffington Post the future of "newspapers"?


Linda said...

First off, thank you for the links; I'm sure the Norwich Bulletin appreciate it, too!

As for blogs replacing newspapers, I don't know, most blogs have some sort of personal slant on a story whereas newspapers are supposed to be unbiased reporting (mind you, I said supposed to be!). If you're just looking to get your news then the news media will remain your source of choice but if you want to see how your favorite blogger spins it, then that's where you'll go.

Still ... there are some newspapers and other news sources that could learn a few lessons from us bloggers!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Let's hope newspapers continue as they are. They can carry on and link with blogs. We don't want the news to lessen.

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

curmy if the huffington post is our future i shutter to think where we are headed. i think that broad is nuts!

smiles, bee (in alabama!)

Shelby said...

here's to blogs.. we don't have an editor to impress, just readers.