Reports of News's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

from the disintermediation-strikes-again dept

It has been impossible to miss the wave of stories chronicling the impending death of newspapers. Some have gone so far as to posit that a country without numerous newspapers will be a threat to original reporting because, traditionally, daily papers set much of the agenda for the rest of the media ecosystem. As newspapers go, there, too, goes much of media’s reporting ability, or so goes the argument.

But while the next couple years will undoubtedly bring much painful reorganization in news industry, at least one sector is showing success, and even growth. Wire services, who supply stories to newspapers, television and websites, are actually hiring. Even as the Wall Street Journal was laying off workers, Dow Jones newswire and Bloomberg were expanding. The market is so promising that CNN is jumping in, too. So, while newspapers continue down their troubled path, original reporting is finding a new way to reach the public.

And, if you think about it, this makes plenty of sense. The wire services provide news that can be used by multiple different publications — and for news outside of local communities, it makes some amount of sense to consolidate it down to a few competing wire services. Does every major American newspaper need a bureau in Russia? That’s a lot of inefficiency and duplication of effort. Having a few different wire services, enhanced with help from community members who can help lead the reporters to stories, can actually represent a much more efficient, but still quite useful, way of reporting on events. In many ways it’s the same disintermediation effect that we’ve seen in industry after industry — where the end result is a much more efficient machine which provides a better product for everyone.

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Comments on “Reports of News's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated”

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13 Comments
Brent Crossland says:

Reports of [local] News' Death may not be exagerated!

One man’s disintermediation is another man’s aggregation.

Having just experienced the impeachment of a sitting Governor at fairly close range my greatest fear is the loss of credible, locally-focused reporting. There was a tremendous difference in depth between analysis provided by locally-based statehouse reports and the ‘coverage’ provided by national news services. I’m confident that an online system will eventually emerge to provide some needed structure to evaluate and provide context to online news sources; however, when 10,000 people decide to start blogging about an issue just because it’s hot it doesn’t give you much basis to evaluate their content. Certainly nothing like being able to peruse a few year’s worth of back newspaper columns.

DrTodd says:

NEWS Loses Against 'Efficiency'

CNN was THE news provider out of Iraq for many years. It turned out they won the position by promising to pervert news out of Iraq so Saddam Hussein would look better. In exchange for selling their souls, Saddam Hussein gave them exclusive access and otherwise assisted CNN in its hold on ‘News’ which was never the ‘Truth’ but merely a sadistic dictator’s propoganda. I don’t welcome repeating this scenario anywhere else in the USA or the world.

Adam Wasserman (profile) says:

Raising the bar on competitive features

What newspapers are going through (and not dealing with very well) is something that affects every industry: the raising of the bar on competitive features.

Today’s competitive feature is tomorrow’s common infrastructure or commodity.

Once upon a time, having a Moscow bureau would actually have helped a paper sell more copies. Today, not so much.

When I first got into the ISP business, one of our competitive differences with which we won new business was email accounts for subscribers. How reliable our server was, aliases, forwarding, how much storage space we gave them, etc.

Now of course nothing could be less important, email has been commoditized to the point of being free with unlimited storage. The competitive difference for an ISP today would be bandwidth caps, burstable rates, etc.

Every business I have ever seen goes through this cycle, some industries deal with it better than others.

cram says:

Hi Kevin

“Wire services, who supply stories to newspapers, television and websites, are actually hiring.”

That’s because the newspapers and other subscrbers are actually paying the wire services. If newspapers weren’t around, how will the wire services survive?

“Having a few different wire services…can actually represent a much more efficient, but still quite useful, way of reporting on events.”

Sure, but where’s the exclusivity that all media outlets crave? Newspapers are always busy with this oneupmanship thing, they think it’s central to their survival. While wire agencies do provide a very efficient way of delivering global news worldwide, using wire news in your paper doesn’t gove your paper an edge. Nor will it win you more subscribers or advertisers.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Wire Services

Monopolies are always more “efficient” than unfettered capitalism.
So if we don’t mind someone like Ted Turner controlling what we hear in the news, and thereby controlling what we think, I agree; otherwise, no.

Monopolies are good in some areas; health care, police, and so forth. I don’t think they are good in news gathering, though.

cram says:

“That’s because the newspapers and other subscrbers are actually paying the wire services. If newspapers weren’t around, how will the wire services survive?

Note the *other subscribers* part… most of them aren’t going away.”

Clever, Mike. But surely you know that newspapers account for a substantial chunk of the wire services’ revenues.

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