4 min

More thoughts about journalism - Feb 2014

(My Feb 15, 2014 proposed comment that I planned to post in this ToledoTalk.com thread, but I never did. I wrote this as a response to the comment below.)

"Because journalism, as we know it may POSSIBLY disappear." - TT user paulhem

If you are referring to articles that need to meet a deadline in order to be printed in the next day's paper, then yes, that paradigm will disappear, and in my opinion, it should have disappeared already.

Journalism, however, will not disappear. 15 years ago, the newspaper industry was slow to react and innovate, and it got burned. Today, old media companies are trying to innovate, and new media startups are forming. Some ideas have failed, but that's to be expected. It may take another 5 to 10 years before the industry learns what works in a sustainable manner, especially at the local level.

But in my opinion, it's an exciting time to be a journalist whether it be a student in high school or college or a journalist with 30-plus years experience. The current and future hardware and software technologies make this a fascinating time to be a writer.

Journalists of all ages, but especially the youngsters with their overactive brains, should be thinking of new project ideas every week if not every day. Attempt and fail often, but keep thinking and trying.

Far too much negativity exists in the newspaper industry. Even in 2013, some media people were still blaming the web for the newspaper industry's decline. The first step toward recovery is to stop blaming everything else.

Journalists are still crafting great stories. They're professional writers for a reason because they can write well. But it's up to the industry to figure out how to get us interested in their products. The web provides us with a lot of distractions. We're not going to read a newspaper website because it supposedly makes us better citizens.

"But my rule #1 for all businesses: if customers aren't buying from you, it's not their fault, it's yours." - Marc Andreessen

Maybe the news company needs to narrow or expand its focus. Better designed websites help. Last month, I bought a digital subscription to the New York Times because I liked their new responsive web design, which works well on all devices.

I don't care how good the writing or the story is, I won't waste time, struggling to read the article if the website is poorly designed for the phone or tablet. The media org will either have to produce a native app for mobile or design their site with responsive web design. Or both.

It's still possible today to read stories about some media people who are taking a wait-and-see approach regarding mobile, which is stunningly stupid. Any media org that is still on the fence about mobile is already left behind.

Journalists who fail to embrace the mobile digital landscape, especially phones, need to be weeded out of a company. A surprising trend, at least to me, is the growing number of users who are reading long-form articles on their phones when it was thought that tablets would be used for this type of activity. User preferences change rapidly, and the media winners will be lean and agile in order to adapt quickly.

Currently, some media companies receive over 40 percent of their unique visitors from mobile users (tablet and phone). And for some media properties, that number is over 50 percent. But I wonder when media companies will see the 50-percent barrier broken by just the phone users. It will happen soon.

Publish and design for the phone first, desktop/laptop second, and everything else a distant third.

Producing a printed newspaper wastes money and slows innovation. If an old newspaper company feels the need to produce a printed product to "serve" the public, then that company should spin-off a small group of writers, editors, designers, and other tech people, and give the group its own company name and budget, and allow them to operate like a startup, creating new products for producing and sharing journalism. If successful, then eventually, the old wing of the company transitions completely to the new. If it fails, well, at least they tried.

And now back to the topic of this thread, which I think was about journalists dying from eating bad food at military bases.

#media - #startup - #design - #mobile - #longform - #blog_jr

By JR - 737 words
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