Sunday, 9 November 2008

How can newspapers ride out the 'perfect storm'

Apologies for paste such a large chunk of Roy Greenslade's prelude to the Society of Editors conference this week, but it defines the current outlook for newspapers, and a strategy to save the very essence of what newspapers are and what journalism is, rather than just looking at bottom lines and treating companies as a business:

What editors should be thinking about instead is the development of new media journalism as a process. They should be thinking as journalists rather than as managers.

Unless journalists start thinking, debating and innovating in order to explore new methods, they will contribute not only to the collapse of their newspapers - and their own careers - but also to the failure of journalism itself.

What we need to do is find out how we can use the new media tools to take journalism on to a new stage. We need to convince publishers that they should give their journalists time, space and resources to explore new avenues, to build relationships with non-journalists, to stimulate a new form of journalism.

There will be mistakes and we will go down dead-ends (as we have done already), and it will be messy at the beginning. But the eventual benefits for journalists, for communities, for society will make that effort worthwhile.

James Robinson writing in The Observer highlights how the industry may never be the same once this tag-team storm of a worldwide recession and mass shift in media consumption have settled:

Newspapers have weathered recessions before, spending in the good times and cutting costs when revenue falls. 'It will sort out the men from the boys,' says one senior industry executive. But a structural shift, with advertising migrating online, represents a sterner challenge.

Few now doubt that the combination could kill off titles that have been publishing for generations.

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