Bloggers versus Mainstream Media

"Print media is what it is. I can’t imagine anyone will be printing news on paper twenty years from now in the industrialized world" – the infamous Mike Arrington.

The bloggers have been tearing lumps out of the "mainstream media" again today, after rumours of trouble and lay offs at the San Francisco Chronicle hit the web. It all strikes me as pointless and just plain stupid grandstanding. Fine, so in 20 years time we’re not going to be printing newspapers according to Arrington – and many other people. But in 20 years time, can you say for sure we’re going to be reading blogs, RSS etc?  There’s a lot we do now that we won’t be doing in 5 years, let alone 20…. a fact that excuses no-one – bloggers, print journalists, politicians, celebrity chefs, polar bears – from preparing for that future. So enter now Robert Scoble to prove himself king of the dunces with his astonishingly dim witted post, graciously entitled ‘Newspapers are dead’:

"The industry has NOT invested in its future. It is reaping the rewards of that.

How many future journalists are being trained for the online world?

I can tell you how many: zero."

You can tell me, can you Scoble? I started University nearly 10 years ago and joined the student paper; the first thing we did was upgrade the computer systems, buy a very early digital camera and stick a web server in the corner. Fine, it wasn’t very good, but I learnt the HTML and PhotoShop skills I still use today. I wrote for student orientated websites as well as the student paper. I’ve worked for websites and currently I work for a print title; but we have a website, we’ve just launched a podcast, and we’ve got videos on YouTube. We might be taking it a little slowly compared to some web businesses, but we have limited time and limited resources and it’s all a learning process.

And we’re hardly alone; look at the top 100 podcasts on iTunes [UK], and where are they from? The vast majority are from the BBC, as you’d expect, but there are several from The Guardian, The Times and Stuff Magazine, all originally print titles, all with really impressive web operations. In the specific categories, such as, say… ooooh…. technology, you’ll find Stuff (again), along with our good selves Custom PC, and the FT. As a whole, you can certainly make the case that print titles are not fully embracing the beautiful creative and technical possibilities of the web; but are the bloggers? Is Scoble’s ropey design and dumb posting the best we can expect? And while TechCrunch has its value, would anyone seriously stand up and defend the lunk headed, poorly written rag that is Crunch Gear? These are the guys who bring you this sage analysis of the news that Microsoft has sold 20million licenses of Vista:

"The increase over XP isn’t very surprising since there is such a greater number of PC users now as compared to this time in 2002. "

Wow! Insight +1! Now that’s journalism.

Blogging is a great idea with tons of potential, no doubt, but blogs are one piece of the puzzle of how to make the best use of the web. Print isn’t dead either; it will just change; it will become either a freebie – because when there’s so much information for free, how else to compete? – or it will become a luxury item – because when information is free and virtual, it’s important for real things to be nice things, to be good quality things, to be a guaranteed brilliant use of the reader’s very precious time.

Change is the only constant.

 

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3 thoughts on “Bloggers versus Mainstream Media

  1. I feel that if I’ve got the time to waste on pedantic nonsense, I ought to have the time to just say that I think that was really well written, thoughtful post.

  2. Yeah good post, Alex. I agree that print is not dead it’s just changing you get more and more free newspapers everywhere in London (and other UK cities) so arguably newspaper reading rises (even if the quality rises. Furthermore as someone who actually took a journalism qualification – a reasonable chunk was given over to online journalism -including how to build/design websites and how to write for an online audience.

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