Physical newspapers aren’t dying off – they’re evolving
Column: I may not subscribe for home delivery, but I read the news more than ever.
I did something last month that I have not done in, oh, four or five years. I got a subscription to a print newspaper.Skip to next paragraph
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Not for me, but for my son. His civics and science classes require that he bring in one or two news stories a week for discussion purposes. So my wife and I thought that we’d get him a subscription to the local paper, so he could cut the stories out.
I’m not sure what we were thinking.
He doesn’t use it, of course (except for the comics). Instead, he goes online, reads the news at media websites or news aggregation sites such as digg.com, and then downloads stories, pictures, and video for his reports.
Yes, that’s right: video. He has a thumb drive that he pops into the computer, downloads the news clip that he wants to use, and plays it for his teacher in class. Just last night, he found a story at npr.com about the Large Hadron Collider in Europe that included a video of the “LHC Rap,” written by one of the scientists. It’s the best explanation of the darn thing I’ve ever seen. Today, he’s going to share that with the class.
Something is happening to the news
The number of people in the United States who now have broadband access either at work or at home has not just reached a tipping point, but crossed over it. (More than 55 percent of Americans have high-speed access at home, according to a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.)
Combine that enhanced access with social-networking tools and the adoption of new reporting formats and you get news websites that are a far cry from ones created only a few years ago. Journalists are turning to Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, and other social-networking sites as a way to gather and share information. In addition, they are presenting stories in different forms – blogs, dazzling interactive Web pages, tapping into databases to create graphics that update in real time, etc.
These trends in news gathering and delivery were obvious during the recent Online News Association conference in Washington. (Disclosure: I helped arrange the conference, but I had nothing to do with the selection of content or speakers.) Two things really struck me about the three-day event:
1) Audience expectations for news websites are changing and they want more reporting that fits high-bandwidth connections.
2) There are even more new tools that journalists can use to tell stories either by themselves or with the help of their readers.