It’s been over three weeks since this blog began.
The more research I do, the more depressing the news.
“Print’s dead — but so is digital,” reads a USA Today headline. “In the past six years the print newspaper business in the U.S. has shrunk by more than half,” reports the author, Michael Wolff. “But the effort to reinvent the business online — in the mantra of publishing, ‘digital is the future’ — presents, if possible, an even bleaker picture.”
And, from Emily Bell, in the Columbia Journalism Review piece, “Facebook is eating the world”: “The internet and the social Web enable journalists to do powerful work, while at the same time helping to make the business of publishing journalism an uneconomic venture.”
I’ve only quoted snippets from the articles (they are long and nuanced and worth reading top to bottom), but you get the discouraging drift of the whole.
So, are we wasting our time here?
Maybe. But then I look at the list of BENEFITS we’ve created (with more to come) and am reassured by their obvious value.
I consider the fact that certain weeklies in certain rural areas are doing well.
I wonder whether, a daily —
- with a modern press
- that’s carrying no debt, and
- is owned by a publisher willing to accept a 5 percent profit margin
- and is serving a community that still has a healthy retail sector
— whether for that daily, the traditional business model might yet work, if carefully modified.
And then, as I was handling the chores on our small farm this Easter Sunday morning, I caught a few minutes of Nathan Schneider’s conversation with Krista Tippett on her “On Being” Public Radio program.
Tippett said she liked the term “digital natives” to describe the young of today. Schneider replied that he thought the term was “troubling,” and in the course of his explanation he said something about the Occupy Wall Street movement that gave me hope.
“Here was something that was organized on the basis of an email,” Schneider said of the movement. “It started because it went viral on the internet, right, this is as internet driven as you can get — yet — at every major occupation there would be a print newspaper within a couple of weeks.” —The Wisdom of Millennials (minutes 29-38)
And so I am heartened. Let’s keep exploring. Onward, my friends.