Newspaper Association Insists That Only Newspapers Can Do Real Reporting

from the say-what-now? dept

An anonymous employee of a decent sized newspaper forwarded me a letter sent out to employees by John Sturm, the head of the Newspaper Assocation of America called The Reality About Newspapers. It's embedded below:


It lists out a series of 7 "myths" about newspapers, followed by the reality. The first 6 myths are actually good points that we absolutely agree with. Basically, it says the newspaper business really isn't that bad. A lot of people still read the newspaper and most newspapers are quite profitable on an operating basis. Indeed, we've pointed that out in the past. The real problem has mainly been with really poor decisions by some in management to take out huge loans. It's the debt load that's killing so many newspapers -- and it's not helped by the fact that newspaper readership is declining and advertisers have a lot more options than in the past.

However, the 7th myth and reality is just ridiculous:
Myth: If newspapers close, you will still be able to get news from other sources.

Reality: Newspapers make a larger investment in journalism than any other medium. Most of the information you read from "aggregators" and other media originated with newspapers. No amount of effort from local bloggers, non-profit news entities or TV news sources could match the depth and breadth of newspaper-produced content.
The problem is that his "myth" is a reality and his "reality" is a fiction. It is true that today newspapers invest more in journalism, but the rest of his "reality" isn't reality at all. There is simply no reason (nor does he provide one) why other publications can't fill the gap. And, note (carefully) his metric: it's the amount invested in journalism. This is like when movie industry guys say "but how do we keep making $200 million movies." You should never trust anyone who tries to base output on the amount invested. Perhaps the answer is to invest smarter in journalism, rather than investing more.

That said, I should make a separate point that's important: I'm still an optimist and a believer that newspapers will figure this out. A lot of people falsely seem to assume I think all newspapers must or should die. I don't think that at all. I received a few emails from people who were surprised about my comments in a Guardian article about why I think newspapers will figure all this out. But, they won't do it if they continue to think that they have some sort of special quality that makes it impossible for other media to report the news.
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Filed Under: journalism, newspaper association, newspapers


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  1. identicon
    Reedatschool, 1 Jun 2009 @ 6:30pm

    Newspapers, because print matters......

    Myth: Newspaper readership is going up as technology combined with human ingenuity create new ways to deliver news

    Reality: Almost no-one under the age of 30 actually goes to the newspaper as their primary source of news anymore. This means that newspapers, despite still hanging in their, have a limited amount of time before all their readers die off.

    Newspapers are really a thing of the past, there are just too many better solutions out their. From streaming news and specialty blogs like Techdirt to twitter and DIGG, it is clear that newspapers are in for the fight of their life. Their current prefered media (paper) will continue to hold them back from being profitable IMHO.

    Newspapers in general are poorly written with many overly biased articles, wasteful of resources, and have a general lack of any quality reporting.

    People were talking about how the newspaper industry back in the early 1900's was so corrupt nothing that a columnist actually believed would ever make it in a paper. I doubt that journalistic integrity is anything more than lip service that is paid to the reader while big business makes up all the facts.

    In this respect newspapers, being controlled mostly by big money, are the primary avenue that misinformation and disinformation is spread to people.

    Surprisingly, more and more people are realizing this and the newspaper industry cannot fight a trend that they helped create by regurgitating whatever corporate or government news source tells them to.

    Newspapers are simply DOA for the 21st Century.

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