To print or not to print?

By Laura Haight

Media observers - including this one - have been predicting the end of printed newspapers for some time now.

It seemed obvious that all but the largest newspapers would eventually be moved to digital publications eventually. And that those who could not make the adjustment would not survive. But when NY Times publisher Arthur Sulzburger told a London audience this week that even the venerable New York Times will stop publishing a physical edition at some unnamed future point, it rumbled through the media universe like tectonic shift. If even the Times knows its future is digital, then the rest of the media world has to admit to the inevitable.

Although Sulzberger refused to reference any time frames, significance of his comments was not lost on observers.

Paywalls and other forms of monetizing journalism may need to be
identified and successfully implemented, but not to support a flagging print product that is doomed to go the way of buggy factories. But rather to support the business of journalism.

The debate over whether or not journalism could survive without newspapers has been raging for years. The question may better be: can journalism survive with newspapers? In the quest to support an expensive ink-on-paper product and labor/time intensive delivery method, newspapers have dramatically reduced resources supporting their core product. Information. Unique, compelling, well researched, balanced, and informative information.

Some of the better journalism you are seeing right now is happening online and - as hard as it is for an old newspaper-person with ink stains on everything - even cable.

Consumers of information need to be more discriminating - not all blogs are the same, not all websites are the same. There is a big difference between a trained journalist and someone capable of putting up a professional looking blog or website. Look for and promote good journalism and support the organizations that make that journalism possible.

That would be something worth paying for.

For a more forward looking view of the Times' announcement check out The Editors Weblog
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