Thursday, May 7, 2009

Newspaper Narcissism

I've long argued that what makes newspapers fail is not that they're not fancy enough and can't compete with flashy websites (even though that might be part of the problem), but rather that they don't offer their readers what the readers are actually interested in: "Over the past ten years, The Washington Post has won nineteen Pulitzer Prizes. But over that same period, we lost more than 120,000 readers. Why? My answer, unpopular among my colleagues, is that while many of these longer efforts were worthwhile, they took up space and resources that could have been used to give readers a wider selection of stories about what was going on, and that may have directly affected their lives. [...] One of my basic concerns is that American journalism has turned away from its own hard-won expertise, and at the very time when readers are looking to us to explain the context of what is happening and what will happen next." (full story) In essence, newspapers have been trying to compete with TV, and they can only lose that kind of game.

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