Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - The News Business Killed the Story


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@Carolyn Ann - welcome back! I agree with you that news organizations try to respond to their consumers. Alas, they often take the path of least resistance and go for glamor and gossip. I would not want any of the publications you list as examples of great journalism replaced by just blogs. However, I think blogs are changing and I am finding more and more online publications that begin to offer researched content. I have said in the past here that editors are important. So are good writers, research, in depth coverage, etc. The media will change. My best example of how it could work is the BBC blogs and conversations with citizens at the moment. The AP report I wrote about (3rd in the related posts) highlighted how now more than ever we need the official news organizations to go for depth. On the other hand, some of the dailies have really sucked wind in the last year or so. I am all too aware of how complex it is to write about issues. My posts take hours to compose and they are not even close to the level of insight I get from a well written and researched article.

@Mads - some news print businesses have been very opportunistic and are now paying the price. Free does not scale well where you have the productions costs. Online color is the same price as black and white. Go to any bookstore and look at the racks of magazine and newspapers. It would be interesting to learn how many sell vs. just viewed at the store cafe'. What's interesting to me is that the news became a business. It used to be stories we told each other and our neighbors and communities. That part of it is going back to people talking with people. There is also a part of me that is aware of how certain news organizations are owned by businesses and choices are made to sell and package, not necessarily to deliver the news stories.

I admit that it's a complex topic to tackle.
You have both fleshed out reasons why. Thank you.

Hi Valeria,

I'm actually inclined to agree with you, if we look at daily news in print. I have never understood this rush towards wanting to do the same and be the first with even the most trivial little thing. Yes, journalists can obviously be bothered, but real people? Come on.

In Denmark our most widely read freesheet (like Metro), Nyhedsavisen, just folded yesterday. Why? Because they existed solely to attract advertisers to a broad reading public. They had huge costs of production and distribution, and they sold their ad inventory short. It had to end. And what did it prove? That in a world where we have all the abundance of choice, we can ever ask for, there is little economic value in print news fit for too many people. Because when you try to please too many at one given time, you please none.

I agree with the other commenter that there is still a huge opportunity for print. But not for commodity news. For specials. For insights. For depth. That will always be valued, and it won't need to go free, because people would still want to pay.

I disagree, Valeria.

News organizations respond to their consumers, but nothing will ever replace a Sunday with the New York Times, or the Observer. Traditional outlets, such as Foreign Affairs, The Economist, and Newsweek cannot, at this point, be replaced by blogs and distinctly self-interested news e-zines (is that the term?) that populate the Internet.

Information comes in gradients: (today) we have the blogs, partisan and self-promoting; then we have the respectable news sources, after that, the weeklies of varying qualities and coverage. Then the journals like Foreign Affairs - they are quarterly, and their essays have a life span that's actually measurable. Then we have the "current affairs" shelves at bookstores and libraries. And then, finally, we have the wisdom of history.

None of that will ever change. The media - the delivery mechanism - will, but the rest of it? No.

Hello, again. Do you forgive me?

Carolyn Ann

PS We're all the poorer for relying solely on blogs and the Internet for our news and views. Sometimes it takes, needs, more than a glimpse to comprehend an issue.

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