My favorite TV critic, Tim Goodman, who writes for the SF Chronicle, was on the radio talking about how the Chronicle is in trouble. They must find a buyer or they will go under. People have been predicting the downfall of print media for a long time and it is probably inevitable that newspapers can’t compete with the Internet using their current model. However, Goodman had a great point: newspapers provide the news, particularly local news. They provide it to the Internet. For the most part, the Internet doesn’t report the news. It links to reports written by people who work for newspapers (and television stations, but aren’t television stations next in line to be replaced by online content?).
Newspaper (and television) reporters aren’t our only source of news, but think about it: sites like Google News or Yahoo! News simply aggregate stories that are provided – for free – by newspapers. And bloggers? Won’t they replace reporters? Oh, no. Bloggers don’t report the news. They comment on it. They find articles that are interesting, controversial, noteworthy and they link to them. They write, “Here’s what I think about this piece of news” and people reply with what they think about that piece of news.
I will concede that there are bloggers like Jim from Sweet Juniper who actually go out in the streets with a camera and write about important issues. But I think Jim and people like Jim are the exception in the blogosphere.
The model of news reporting will have to evolve to fit the times, but it’s not happening quickly enough. I’m sorry that institutions like the Chronicle might fold before they can figure out a way to work with the Internet.