Sunday, August 19, 2007

why I gave up my daily local paper

Just this morning, I kicked a lifelong addiction to reading the print version of my daily local newspaper (these days, that's the Washington Post). As a former magazine writer, my print addiction's tougher than most, and while I read several papers online, I'd kept the local paper in hardcopy. But another Sunday of erratic delivery service finally prompted me to cancel my entire seven-day-a-week subscription this morning. When I came back from the gym to find a very late, last copy on my doorstep -- truly too little, too late -- I had one last hardcopy read.

Fittingly, I found Joel Achenbach's column, "I Really Need You to Read This Article, Okay?" summarizing the industry's changes and the impact on reporters, newsrooms and readers. One change: newsroom structures and metrics, both now focused on page views and viewers, rather than hardcopy readers:
A dramatic example already exists at the Daily Telegraph in London, where the brand-new newsroom is arrayed like radial spokes, with the Web operation at the center. Everyone can see an electronic board that lists the articles attracting the most eyeballs at that precise moment on the Web. It's like a page-view shrine.
And Achenbach summarizes in two sentences what a reporter's job has expanded to include these days, in case you haven't kept up:
Marketing, however, may increasingly become part of the journalistic mix (along with reporting, writing, doing an online chat, podcasting, filming a video diary, answering e-mails, blogging, etc.) Reporters long immune from circulation concerns are now encouraged to identify bloggers who might link to their work.
So I'm helping Joel out with these links, in aid of his "proposition: News outlets will never get anywhere if they're obsessed with chasing readers. They can, however, collaborate with them. And therein lies a hopeful future for the business." If only they'd collaborated better in reaching my front porch on time...

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