The problem is not the medium – it’s the message
Another must-read post for the list: The Press Will Be Outsourced Before Stopped is the most coherently argued case I’ve heard yet against the desperate/unconsidered rush to online, video, podcasts, etc. etc. I’ll quote at length:
“A lot of publishers suffer from these presumptions. They see less and less people reading printed publications, more and more of those people reading things online, and believe that all they need to do is shovel their printed editions over to online (and add video and audio) to reverse their newspapers’ declines in readership.
“These presumptions ignore the fact that newspaper readerships have been declining for more than 30 years and that approximately half of those declines occured before the Internet was opened to the public or the public had any online access. Shouldn’t that give publishers a hint that the major cause of their readerships’ declines isn’t the Internet or their content not being online?
“And is adding video and audio to that content (so-called ‘multimedia’) going to reverse those declines? Consider that television station’s news viewerships have been declining for more than 20 years and that radio station’s news listenerships have been declining for even longer. Do you think that if radio or television stations add newspaper-like texts to their own websites that this will reverse the declines in their viewerships or listenerships? So, why do publishers think that newspapers adding video and audio to their own texts online will reverse newspapers’ declines in readerships? Adding together two or more declining media do not an ascending new-media make.
“The real problem, Mr. Newspaperman, isn’t that your content isn’t online or isn’t online with multimedia. It’s your content. Specifically, it’s what you report, which stories you publish, and how you publish them to people, who, by the way, have very different individual interests. The problem is the content you’re giving them, stupid; not the platform its on. But I digress.”
I’ve added one point: community. Newspapers in particular have been increasingly losing touch with their communities as their resources became increasingly stretched; this not only affects the content, but the trust between reader and paper, and therefore how many people buy it. Newspapers need to realise they are increasingly a service industry, and less a product industry, and in that situation trust becomes increasingly important.