Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Uncertain Future of Popular Paper-based Publications

Alberto Ibargüen, President and CEO of the Knight Foundation says that

"unless traditional news organizations move from “I write and you read” to partnerships and letting the public participate in shaping the news, “I think the world will pass them by.”

The New York Times, July 19, 2009

The advantage of an individual blog like this is that I link straight to newspapers or other original news sources and I'm independent. Since this is a voluntary effort, no one has to worry that I'm overpaid by sources with ulterior motives (though other blogs can be undisclosed advertisements). The disadvantage is that I'm not a fast-moving news aggregator and just show one post at a time.

Google News, Yahoo News and HuffPost and others pass off content to advertisers as original. Newspapers and magazines relying on advertisers and subscriptions for revenue are finding their buyers balking at content consumers can get for free online.

The First Amendment to the Constitution, "free speech" is an important determinant that makes America a great democracy. It's important to frequently assert that right. Even so, it's easy to understand that the paper-based business model of news delivery is in trouble. Newspapers are expensive; salary expenses are steep and exorbitant healthcare insurance costs can't be helping the bottom line either.

What newspapers and news agencies are finding is news aggregators are legally able to copy most of an original newspaper or agency article, and for advertising solicitation purposes claim it as their own original work rather than that of a source. The future of free speech is in jeopardy if the source that paid for the research is not also reaping the benefits. Investigative journalism creates knowledge that is a benefit to all, but requires a lot of time and money.

Many are predicting the downfall of newspapers, and in Sunday's The New York Times is an article claiming that billionaires are taking up the cause of investigative journalism at ProPublica, the professional journalism website. Great! Maybe instead of funding sports teams, billionaires will look at newspapers as their toys of choice. (God help America!)

The same problem that musicians have had with the modernization of the music industry is still roiling it, that iTunes could be the future of the music industry.

Portable, fragrant glossy magazines can entice and satisfy like nothing else. I have long enjoyed relaxing with paper publications, many sadly now not publishing.

Here's my central question to you about the news industry in flux: do you think paper-based leaflets, brochures and magazines add value to a green-conscious economy? Easier, do you like them or dislike them?

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