Scouring the Media

Posts Tagged ‘Newspapers

In the eras before Google’s founding, journalists had to go out and search for information. It took time to gather information on a person’s occupation, hobbies and interests. Since the invention of Google, journalists have had access to a tool that streamlines their research.

However, while Google has helped journalists, many critics speculate that its power of immediately gathering information overrunning journalism. The iPod industry, built on the stilts of Apple, is also seen as a threat to journalism–especially with reports that Rupert Murdoch is starting a newspaper exclusively for the iPad.

But Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, spoke recently, and said he refused to allow his empire to take over journalism.

“One of my beliefs, very strongly, is that any democracy depends on a free, healthy press,” Jobs said in an interview earlier this year. “Anything that we can do to help the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal find new ways of expression so they can afford to get paid, so they can afford to keep their editorial operations intact, I’m all for it.”

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, forecasted the future of journalism himself in an interview with The Atlantic reporter James Fallows.

“It’s obvious that in five or 10 years, most news will be consumed on an electronic device of some sort,” Schmidt said. “Something that is mobile and personal, with a nice color screen. Imagine an iPod or Kindle smart enough to show you stories that are incremental to a story it showed you yesterday, rather than just repetitive. And it knows who your friends are and what they’re reading and think is hot.”

Jobs believes it’s Apple’s responsibility to give journalism the room to succeed that it deserves, saying, “I don’t want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers myself. We need editorial more than ever right now.”

Google offers a News Archive Search, which, according to Google, “provides an easy way to search and explore historical archives. In addition to helping you search, News archive search can automatically create timelines which show selected results from relevant time periods.”

Ultimately, newspapers will have to adapt to the environment around them. With technology booming and Google and Apple showing no signs of stopping, newspapers will simply have to find new ways to engage their audiences.

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News stories have always been sources of information for the public to intake, digest and evaluate. Now, however, many people are beginning to notice that the amount of serious news coverage is dwindling, and that more stories are chosen for by their debate factor.

In a post from the American Journalism Review, Senior Contributing Writer Paul Farhi wrote about Orly Taitz, a lawyer and dentist from California, who is part of the “birther” movement. Birthers believe President Obama was not born in America, and is therefore ineligible to hold the oval office. Farhi wanted to know how such unimportant news became such a media frenzy to begin with.

“Why does a crank like Taitz rate so much attention in the first place?” Farhi wrote.

News outlets are becoming more comfortable with fewer hard news stories and more soft news stories–but the question is why.

“Is a story about the private life of a politician ‘politics’ or ‘entertainment’?” an article from the Media Awareness Network asks. “Is an article about the importance of investing early for retirement a ‘business’ story or a ‘lifestyle’ story? Judging solely on subject matter, it can be difficult to tell.”

Subject matter has always been important for journalists, but with the rise of the World Wide Web, many unfounded underground news stories are starting to gain popularity. Once people notice that the stories are popular, those people may be unable to discover that the source that published the story is misinformed or biased.

“Stories that might have been dismissed as marginal or kooky in an earlier age now command serious scrutiny from mainstream news organizations,” Farhi wrote. “Before there was an Internet, before the explosion of sources of news and commentary, mainstream news organizations could maintain something like a gatekeeper role, downplaying or ignoring stories they deemed unfit for public consumption.”

Farhi cited theories ranging from the birther movement to the ignorance towards Muslims as being some of the topics that often allow for uneducated commentary to get out of hand. Politico writer Ben Smith offered insight as to why.

“[B] elief in obscure, discredited theories is a constant in a country with a history of partisan division — a country in which, a recent survey showed, 34 percent of the public believes in UFOs and 24 percent believes in witches,” wrote Smith.

Even though internet has given rise to many claims, theories, and news stories, it’s still the responsible journalist’s role to sort through the mountain of dirt in order to find a story with real value. Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, commented on Farhi’s article.

“We’re in the business to tell people what’s real and what’s not. I know it sounds a little arrogant, but our job, whenever possible, is to tell them the truth,” Jurkowitz wrote.

As Farhi wrote in his article, journalists used to be able to decide the majority of news the public heard. Journalists had time to sift through rumors and weed out the falsehoods in order to make truthful and accurate stories. In this era, journalists still must sift through the bad to find the good–but they also must convince their readers that journalists are trustworthy and have the correct answers. In the end, journalists must continue to present their stories honestly and without bias, while remaining honorable. Sensationalist stories and theories have a place, and it’s not in journalism.

NPR’s Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep explained yesterday that the iPad may be the host of the next big thing in journalism.

“…Coming early next year, billionaire Rupert Murdoch plans to launch his own iPad-only daily newspaper.”

Cnet news reported that the name of this newspaper will be, simply enough, “The Daily” and that it will be sold on the iPad for 99 cents per week.

Now that the masses will have access to a newspaper with moving ads and images, much like newspapers of the future as seen in science fiction movies, it’s up to the audience to decide if the digital newspaper passes or fails. Although science fiction movies have been making newspapers of the future look enchanting for years, many journalists don’t think The Daily will make it. In the age of sharing, this new project’s reluctance to link to the internet for unoriginal content is disappointing to some and a sign of future failure to many.

“The conception of the daily, as it is called, is mostly original content,” said David Carr, media columnist for The New York Times in an interview with Steve Inskeep. “But it doesn’t have any inbound links from the Web, no outbound links, so it’s not really part of what we think of as the news ecosystem.”

According to Carr’s column in The New York Times, an investment has been made and a staff has been chosen.

“With an investment of $30 million and a staff of around 100, The Daily will be the first of a kind — a ‘newspaper’ with rich media and photography built especially for the iPad,” wrote Carr in his column.

Carr continued to write about the digital newspaper’s new staff.

“The enterprise has made some surprising hires from the ranks of the mainstream — Sasha Frere-Jones, the music critic of The New Yorker; Steve Alperin, a high-profile television producer; and Richard Johnson, the former king of Page Six,” he wrote. “The Daily will incorporate some material from the rest of the News Corporation — Fox Sports will provide some video, according to people putting together the prototype — but the plan is that a vast majority of the content will be original.”

In an article titled “Why the iPad Newspaper is Doomed,” Gawker writer Ryan Tate explained that the newspaper needed to focus on content in order to succeed.

“There will be people writing about politics, crime and society. Quaintly, there will even be an a dedicated opinion section,” Tate wrote. “That broad scope might be workable for 100 journalists if there were some aggregation going on — some borrowing and sharing work done by others — but the vast majority of The Daily’s content is supposed to be original.”

Finally The Guardian also published information about the new project:

“According to reports, there will be no ‘print edition’ or ‘web edition’; the central innovation, developed with assistance from Apple engineers, will be to dispatch the publication automatically to an iPad or any of the growing number of similar devices.”

With so many questions for the new newspaper application, its launch may create even more questions. It will simply take time to see, however. Despite being a major milestone as the first iPad only newspaper, this experiment will definitely test the waters for new newspaper territory.

The newspaper industry has been the target of a lot of pressure.

More and more people are openly commenting on how newspapers are going out of date, and how blogs, web columns and web sites are quickly growing to be the most rapid ways to share information. While it is easier to make information accessible by posting it online where anyone can see it at any time of the day, newspapers are still important to our country.

The most important thing for the staff of every newspaper to do is to pinpoint the reason why they feel that they are in such a bad position. Is it because they’re not advertising their paper well enough, or because they are not covering the stories people want covered? Newspapers are reliable and accepted sources of information; the internet is full of falsehoods and news channels often carry a significant political bias. Since there are only a handful of national news stations, it is not easy to find a story without some form of spin. Unlike television’s large media outlets, newspapers are known for generally unbiased reporting. Many people prefer to read newspapers because reporters cover all sides of the story. Unlike a standard two-minute television report, it’s a journalist’s duty to research a story thoroughly and present it as it stands without any commercial interruptions or time limits.

The idea that newspapers have been slowly drowning in the last decade may be a legitimate concern. The rise of mobile journalism has not gone without a toll on the newspaper industry. Clayton Christensen of Forbes.com wrote that newspapers are still worthy of attention.

“Newspaper companies do, however, have real assets to bring to the table,” said Christensen. “Despite declining circulation, the daily paper still produces cash flow that many other industries eye with envy. The core content produced by newspapers is the basis for many of the industry’s disruptors. Without newspaper content, there isn’t much news for television to report, bloggers would have less to blog about, and Yahoo! News and Google News would be blank pages. Furthermore, newspapers have strong brands and highly skilled employees.”

What matters now is how newspapers react. Will newspaper staffs accept the challenge or will they struggle and fail? Unfortunately many newspapers may fear any change, even if that change would ultimately keep papers afloat. As Michael Kinsley of Time Magazine put it,
“Some [newspaper staffs] are going to find the answers. And some are going to fritter away the years quarreling about staff cuts.”