Friday, July 24, 2009


Ann Arbor News moves to web after 174 years in print

by Larry Geller

After 174 years, the last edition of the News rolled off the presses Thursday morning as Michigan's fifth-largest city started to make the transition to a new era of journalism. [Detroit Free Press, Ann Arbor News folds; Web transition begins, 7/24/2009]

It is a new era. To be connected to local or world events, you need to be connected to the Internet. Or in many places, you get nothing beyond the vast wasteland of the 6 p.m. TV news. Lucky you, you have and know how to use a computer.

We might begin to be concerned not only about protecting net neutrality, to ensure we have access to whatever media we wish to connect to, but also about our dependence on a single resource, “the Internet,” as the exclusive carrier of our connection to the media and to each other.

Suppose someone pulled the plug, or some attack destroyed the backbone structure of the Internet?

Newspaper production is a distributed endeavor. Local presses can be served by several sources of newsprint and ink. While not invulnerable, at the same time the diversity of production and distribution provides some security. It’s not uncommon for one press to print more than one newspaper, so they could even back each other up. For the Internet, there is no backup system.

For those connected to the Internet, it’s all and everything. Without it we couldn’t tweet, arrange meetings, read news, exchange joke emails. Marriages could break up if partners are forced to resort to face-to-face communication instead of email. Corruption would accelerate without watchdog bloggers. Businesses moving to “cloud computing” could find themselves out of business.

Having said that, there is no other solution at hand for the ailing newspaper business than to try and make it somehow on the web, There they find much more nimble competitors, however. In fact, as print newspapers develop web versions, they scoop themselves. I’d much rather read today’s breaking news on the Advertiser website than wait a day or two for it to possibly appear in the print edition.

Journalism is being reinvented on the Internet, while newspapers evolve only slowly. They are trapped by a relatively inflexible medium: paper. To “evolve,” they send readers to the Web to read more, or to watch videos. This may be temporary. Perhaps one day everyone in elementary school will be issued Tablet PCs which, like Kindles, can display news or other reading on a portable flat screen. The New York Times Reader is an application that brings a week of the Times to your computer and which is a pleasure to use on my TC1100 Tablet PC.

If that happens, then newspapers that have managed to survive till then can evolve further by discarding paper altogether.

So stay tuned right here and all over the Web for news. And think about what we need to do to preserve the Internet and keep our information flowing.



Post a Comment

Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.

<< Home


page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Newer›  ‹Older