I was a guest on Chicago Public Radio’s 848 show on newspapers this morning. The interview with Ashley Gross followed a business piece by Diantha Parker on the future of the Chicago Tribune, recently bought by real estate giant Sam Zell. Also in the news today is the deal for New York-Based Cablevison Systems to buy Newsday from Tribune Co. for $650 million.
No, newspapers are not dead.
It has become very popular to talk about the death of print media and how everyone in the future will get their news from the Internet, or a Blackberry, or a phone, or a message in a bottle. No, wait, that’s the old way. We discuss this at length at the Medill School of Journalism, where I teach mostly freshmen in the basic skills courses. Some students are depressed because all they hear is bad news about the future of media. Others can see the future and that they are it.
I think the times have never been better– or less predictable.
What I see is an evolution and a profession in emergence. This is as exciting a time in media as the turn of the last century, when cities had multiple newspapers, weeklies and niche publications to satisfy their informational needs. News has no doubt become more democratic. Sourcing and content is accessible in real time and all the time. The lines between consumer of news and producer of news have fallen and in many cases disappeared.
I think all these outlets need content. And I believe strongly that well-reported and well-written content that is vetted, reliable, accurate and compelling will never die. It is just the question of how it gets to you that will change. Chances are that won’t be with a thud on your doorstep. Or in a floating bottle that washes up near your shores.
I will be talking about my new book and all these issues on Thursday, May 29 at the River Forest Public Library at 7:30 p.m. I w ill also be at the Printers Row Book Fair Sunday, June 8 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Illinois Press Woman’s Association booth. Come by and let’s talk about what you see happening in the news.