As a certified “old school kinda guy” (my tastes in music, movies, books and on occasion, clothing all hearken back to a better time) it should be no surprise that I am saddened over what’s being described as a slow, painful and inevitable death for the newspaper industry. I will put aside for the moment that it is in my best interest as a PR professional that there be as many and various types of media outlets for me to pitch as possible. I simply like the newspaper. Without waxing too poetic about ink-smudged fingertips and the like – I really do like rifling through it in the morning. I like folding it to my tastes. I like passing an article over to my wife at the table. I like that my Mom still occasionally cuts out an article in her local paper to mail to me, rather than e-mail it. I can’t help it – I’m old school.
The issue I have is that living in our present culture and, in particular, being in public relations, I am inevitably using and playing up the electronic resources that are leading to the demise of the newspaper. It’s a requirement that I continue to be connected via social media – whether it be blogs, online news sources, Facebook or even Google Alerts. I read my news on the go like everyone else with a smartphone. And I truly embrace these sources and encourage my clients to do the same. Does this essentially mean that I’m giving up on the newspaper? Aside from the intimacy of having the paper in hand at home or during the morning commute, would my life be all that much different if I ditched the paper?
I hope not, as I’m personally not ready to give up on the paper. I believe newspapers still maintain most (if not all) the best standards of journalism and employ people that still truly care about their stories – whether they’re chasing major national headlines or covering the city council or local high school football. While there are more than a few instances of the process happening in reverse, it is still far more typical that news flows from the mainstream media/print journalism which then drives blogs and other important online sources (read all about it here). Content is still king and I maintain that the best producers of unbiased, unfiltered content still write for newspapers.
Again, I truly enjoy and respect the value of social media, but I feel the need to forewarn clients and co-workers not to get too over-committed to all of the ‘new toys’ that these outlets afford us. The technologists have already come up with the social media tool that’s going to out-do twitter and Facebook and they’re calling the rest of us Neanderthals for not recognizing it. While we try to find the next new thing, the news agendas will still be set in the newspapers. They will (hopefully) do the investigating and the real reporting and offer us a source we can generally trust as a reflection of society and our priorities.
Here’s hoping there’s room enough in our collective attention spans for everyone…