Exactly why print journalism is dying

Today I found a brilliantly funny article published on the website of the West Seattle Herald, a local American newspaper, titled Local newspapers, blogs and the future (thanks again Twitter).

Rarely have I read a story that manages to miss the point so completely. The jist of the article is that the reported ‘death of the local newspaper’ has been greatly exaggerated and that local newspapers can never be replaced by blogs:

‘But community newspapers are NOT going to be replaced by neighborhood blogs and are doing quite well though in an economic downturn some evolution is necessary for all media. [sic] In the weeks ahead you will see this newspaper change page size, for example, and we are re-launching our Web site to bring you more information and provide greater interaction.

‘We want to assure you that THIS newspaper is stable and devoted to the community and plans to be publishing in print and online for a long time to come.’

It then goes on to argue that you can never replace ‘professional journalists who ‘sift through the information’ and ‘provide an as unbiased view as possible’ with bloggers that may ‘have an axe to grind’.

Perhaps so. Which is why most ‘quality’ newspapers, who – although certainly looking over their business models – are not likely to write a panicky, poorly researched and poorly written piece of drivel like this one to defend them.

The article then points out, rightly so, that there are those in the ‘blogging world’ for whom traditional media can’t die soon enough. After having a look through the home page of the West Seattle Herald, I have to say that I, for one, would have to count myself as one of them.

If this is what ‘professional journalists’ churn out during office hours, I’ll choose an unpaid, ‘biased’ blogger any day of the week.

Among the top 5 stories, we have: Concord, Denny designated as international schools, New senior housing in Western Seattle and Sanislo appointed a new principal.

Do we really need a newspaper for stories like this? Just out of interest, I did a search on the website for ‘cat’ – just to see if I could find the traditional local newspaper story about a cat stuck in a tree.

I didn’t. But I did find an article about orphan kittens being given a new home.

The article is brilliantly summed up in a comment by the signature ‘Kristina Surface’:

‘Your points offered me food for thought – what is the difference between a local paper and a local blog? The answer is clear: a blog posts news in real time, whereas a paper posts (less) news a week later. Unfortunately, your paper is at a huge disadvantage.

‘I will not be renewing my subscription to the paper. I can get the same information, but in greater detail, from a professional reporter at the West Seattle Blog. I am glad to hear that your business is doing so well that I will not be missed, because the one thing that was tempting me to renew my subscription was that I wanted to support a local business. I’m glad to hear that my readership will not make a difference to you.’

There.

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