Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Newspapers -- School and Otherwise -- in the Digital Age

According to Ars Technica, a new company called Journalism Online now wants to sell you what you already get for free.

Namely: online newspapers.

Money quote (pun intended):
"My experience with The Wall Street Journal taught me that people will pay a reasonable price to access exclusive, differentiated and essential journalism, whether delivered in print or online," said Gordon Crovitz, announcing the new venture.

With the Wall Street Journal. That's kinda like saying, "My experience editing the Journal of Plankton Biology has shown me that people will really pay for good articles about plankton". I doubt all that many readers of the WSJ mind shelling out for the paper (well... actually in this economy they might!). But if you are going to charge, then at least get rid of or tone down the ads; I mean, really: the NY Times looks like Times Square on any given Sunday.

The debate about the future of journalism is beyond me. In some respect I can see the urge to charge a subscription fee, though perhaps in exchange any paper going to a subscription-based model should offer free access via public libraries and schools. Otherwise, we're in a situation where only the folks who can afford the paper and/or access can read it. Or maybe subscribers could get the news on release, and then it would be free to the public twelve hours later. I don't know... just brainstorming; come to think of it, that would kinda stink. How about free access to front-page and local/metro news and subscription access to sports, business, real estate, etc.?

Jeez, the Digital Age is tougher to poke holes in than a Mencken column.

By the same token, I like how blogging is changing the approach towards news reporting and I see an interactive future much more geared to independent journalism as the materials of reporting -- cameras, recorders, mobile computing (and perhaps holographic transportation? [Just hoping]) -- become more accessible.

Which all means that a whole lot is resting on the doorsteps of the high school and college journalism programs across this country. In the debate over 21st Century Skills, I could certainly see the school newspaper being ground zero for innovation and argument.

1 comment:

  1. Here in the great metro areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul, we have a new venture called MinnPost. It is an entirely online newspaper. No, it's not a newspaper. It's more of a "reporter's outlet."

    The staff is made up of reporters and columnist laid off from the two major newspapers in the area. It's fascinating.

    Even more fascinating is how they are funding it. They created a "micro-sponsorship" campaign to fund the venture. You can donate $25 and be "high brau" or $15 and be "low brau." It's raised a considerable sum of money so far.

    This might be the direction that news is heading.


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