April 27, 2009

Advance editors weigh in on fate of newspapers

Editors of two newspapers in the Advance Publications (Newhouse newspapers group) are out on the web about the plight of newspapers.

Oregonian executive editor Peter Bhatia recently was on a panel that discussed what happens to democracy if newspapers die. On Sunday, an edited version of his prepared thoughts are published in "Plight of newspapers."

Bhatia doesn't paint a rosy picture, but he shares what he calls the uncovered story:
"No one really knows if newspapers will go away. No one really knows where technology will lead media and information. No one can predict the future, because the technology is moving so quickly and it -- not talking heads -- will determine the future of newspapers."
He also explores the difference between newspapers and newspaper journalism. You should be able to listen to the panel discussion through Wednesday. The edited text of his prepared remarks will be online longer and is worth reading as he explains why
"The Oregonian isn't going away. There are important and major differences between our situation and other papers you've heard about or read about."
Meanwhile, back in Michigan the online editor of the mother Booth newspaper spoke with journalism students at Cornerstone University. Meegan Holland shared why she believes the future of the Grand Rapids Press remains strong.

She also shares how the newspaper is learning to use Google, Twitter and live chats to effectively engage readers and draw them to the online home of what is now Michigan's largest daily newspaper. She also told the students that how to pay for the online news is a struggle.
“We committed the original sin of giving it away for free,” Holland said, adding that readers now feel entitled to the news. “Once one paper did, we all had to and we can’t go back now.”
Holland, who headed up the Booth Newspaper's Lansing Bureau before it was dissolved, told the journalism students about recent success and challenges in the article.

She pointed to the newspaper's use of Twitter, a micro-blogging Web site, for giving eraders aneasy way to communicate directly with Press editors.

“We really blew off Twitter for a long time until we realized the power of it,” she said. “We’ve started conversing with people … and it’s given a face — a Twitter face — to the newspaper.”

By the way, one of the strongest Tweeters from the newspaper GRGonzo, who has covered a number of events live via Twitter and used it to solicit input on stories for several years.

The battle for survival goes on.


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