Monday, May 18, 2009

Will Social Media Save The Newspaper Industry, Asks Social Media Explorer?

I began my print journalism career in August 1985, after earning my B.A. degree in broadcast journalism from American University. The reason I chose print over broadcast is for another post on another day.

About 3 years ago, management at my current employer told the editorial team told us that we had to begin developing our digital media skills, as this was the direction our publications were going. I created the Towers and Tarmacs blog. I created a Flickr account that now has more than 4,000 photos. I went to Podcamp Philly and learned how to record, edit and produce my own podcasts. I created a fan page for airports and airport security on Facebook. And I have a work-based Twitter account (@bizavweekly) that covers the airline and business aviation industries that I use to promote our company's publications.

It was with interest that I read a post on the Social Media Explorer blog entitled: Will Social Media Save The Newspaper Industry? In it, writer David Finch opines that it will take more than just social media to save the industry. He noted the unveiling of the newest version of the electronic book Kindle that is being touted as a potential savior for newspapers. It was a topic I blogged about here on April 17.

I get brownie points for for Tweeting about my company's stories and blog posts, but Finch says newspapers have to recreate the user experience to make the newspaper the talk of the town again. "Perhaps, the newspaper as we know it must die, not because its content isn’t relevant, or its attempts to use social media has failed, but because the consumer no longer identifies with it," writes Finch. "In my opinion, it’s just a matter of time, but until then I can guarantee you can find me every weekend with a cup of coffee, the New York Times, and my favorite jazz artists in the background."

We have all heard what the problem is, as eloquently outlined in this article by New York Times columnist Frank Rich. But what about the solution? In a poll of 351 members of the Associated Press Managing Editors, only 17% said they believed the industry would go extinct.

The May 12 post on the Recovering Journalist blog is blunt --
There is No Magic Bullet. Mark Potts says newspapers can't:

  • Charge for online content;
  • Implement micropayments;
  • Rely on the Kindle; or
  • Punish Google

I am heartened by some of the efforts that journalists out there are doing to adapt in an ever-changing landscape. America Online has been rolling out a series of blogs that are similar to
newsweekly magazines and daily papers, including, to fill the news gap, reports The editor is Melinda Henneberger, a former reporter from the New York Times, and has hired 21 journalists from publications including the Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, NPR, Politico and US News & World Report, said PaidContent.

Forty former Star-Ledger reporters who took a buyout have launched their own Web-based news site -- -- reports Editor & Publisher. So far, it looks like the ad revenue is coming just from Google Ad Sense, but the site looks like it's covering all the news worth covering in the Garden State.

It shows that there's still hope for innovation and growth in journalism, despite the current doom and gloom. I'm hoping that the new NABJ board -- including me as Region II Director -- will study all the opportunities out there across all media platforms and work with them to ensure jobs for its members.

No comments:

Post a Comment