Impassioned pleas for newspapers

Philly.com executive producer Yoni Greenbaum offers an apology to students and potential journalists about the state of the newspaper industry:

Somewhere along the way we dropped the ball, we screwed the pooch, we lost sight of the goal line, hell, we just blew it.

He goes on to give very specific details about what’s happening in his newsroom, and what the industry needs to do to right the ship:

“Those companies that are going to survive this period, including philly.com, who have embraced the Internet and who see technology as a salvation and not a distraction need individuals like yourselves.

Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley sees the best-case scenario for print’s survival as a morphing into a daily magazine:

“It has to identify people within its reach who still want to read the news—read it, that is, not pick it up in quick online hits or hear it in bits and pieces on television or radio—and who want to read it on paper. Instead of dumbing down—making stories shorter and snappier, assuming that readers have the intellectual curiosity of couch potatoes—it has to smarten up.”

On both counts, I hope these prescriptions are not too late. It’s unfortunate that Mark Potts, a consultant who led philly.com’s redesign effort, rails the way he does against “printies,” even to the point that they print out their e-mails. Alan Mutter responds by advocating “open-eyed pragmatism:”

“We are poorly served by divisive posts mocking those who cling to traditional journalism, or dismissing those seeking a new path. We need to work together to find business models that can demonstrate, with hard numbers, an ability to succeed in a capitalist economy.”

I will admit to feeling a bit old-fashioned right now. I spent most of yesterday afternoon immersed in the Sunday New York Times, for the first time in a long time, and it was a blissful indulgence that simply can’t be matched online. Not even close.

I started this blog to explore ways in which print journalism’s traditions are merging with the dynamism of the Web. Greenbaum and Yardley have offered some thoughtful, and valuable, ideas to help push those two entities closer together.

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