Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Walking the Tightrope

In print journalism's current state of "transitioning" or "adapting" or whatever anyone would like to call it, I sort of picture it wobbling up on a tightrope as everyone watches in silence, waiting for it to fall to its demise.

In the effort of keeping the physical paper alive, there's been a lot of discussion (especially right here from me) about focusing on local content. So, I found it interesting when I read this article from MediaShift questioning how far newspapers should go with local news. Should national and international news be left for other outlets? Some expert's assessments suggest that newspapers can go too far in their local coverage and readers still want that extended national and international coverage--even it is not in-depth.

I completely agree. It makes me think of those pesky little Boston Metro papers scattered all over the T because commuters are too lazy to dispose of them in the proper manner. There are many a times when I was able to get my daily dose of news--local, national and international--just by grabbing the Metro and reading a few headlines and small articles (and then throwing it in the recycling or trash bin!).

We need to have that connection to the rest of the country and the world. While in-depth coverage is a necessity, it's not always a possibility for every outlet, especially the smaller ones, but eliminating it completely is not the solution. Although many get their news coverage online not everyone does as the article makes a valid point about:

“The grand assumption behind this is that everyone’s reading their news on the Internet,” wrote Mike Ho. “Certainly MediaShift readers are. But not everyone is, and here’s where it gets hairy. The Internet-connected community, while getting larger, still excludes large swaths of the population based both on age and socio-economic status. If local papers skimp on national news because ‘everyone’s getting it online,’ they’re forgetting that not everyone is online, not even in the net-savvy San Francisco Bay Area, the readership for the example you cite.”

Basically the print industry just needs to find its balance--between local and non-local and print and new media. It's a wobbly time for the field of journalism but it seems to be holding its arms out at both sides keeping everyone in suspense.

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