Online armageddon: The end of newspapers?

I had dinner with one of my PR professors last night and we talked, among other things about media losing their jobs, Tribune filing for bankruptcy and road blocks in general.

When I got back home I read stories on Mashable and TechCrunch that seemed to add insult to the ongoing injury. Although the Pulitzer prize opening up to embrace online writers (unlike myself because we are talking breaking news, etc.) is a step forward in terms of  acknowledging the craft regardless of the medium, this latest development takes me back to something my profession said in reference to the newspaper industry losing to its own counterparts – not even – losing to itself online.

Did newspapers give too much away too fast? Would the beauty of things online be ruined if we required a subscription to our favorite local and national news sites? Is the Tribune filing for bankruptcy the first of many instances on the way to the end of print news? A few days agoI received (and accepted) and invitation to the “Don’t let newspapers die” cause on Facebook…We have a new printing press and it’s called WordPress, Blogger, Typad, Movable Type, etc. etc. Where there are economies of scale there are new business models and there is change. But, should newspapers have been more careful in how they dealt with the demand for news?

I’ve read a few books that say that newspapers’ biggest mistake was when they failed to acknowledge the internet as a new industry, a product and service that wouldn’t just compliment what they were already doing, it would cannibalize and eat away at their pages.

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I would miss holding my awkwardly-sized newspaper in front of me every morning and notice how my fingers get progressively more stained with ink. I also have always kept my to-do lists and appointments on paper. If it’s not the end of the snazzy, bound calendars industry – how could we be looking at the end of a service that, as quaint and old-fashioned as it may seem now, is one of our greatest social institutions?How can we save newspapers?

UPDATE (Dec. 11, 2008) – In terms of the Pulitzer prize, it shall remain safely in the hands of news reporters and very far away from bloggers and others online who are not associated with an actual news site. Seth Godin thinks that’s a shame. What do you think?

Regardless, does that change anything for newspapers? Is the Pulitzer remaining exclusive to writers association with a major newspaper another example of how the industry refuses to change the status quo for the sake of keeping their original business model intact?


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