Imagine, for a moment….
July 8, 2008, 9:22 am
Filed under: Journalism

What if you had free reign to completely reorganize the newsroom of a print newspaper that wants to start focusing on online operations? Imagine, for a moment, that there was no print product.

How would you organize a newsroom that publishes only to the web? Would you abolish deadlines? Add more of them? Completely change the editing structure? Leave it the same?

Assume, for the purpose of this exercise, that the print paper will put itself out.


Also, Mindy McAdams has a nice list of “10 simple facts” we should all now assume about newspapers. You can read the rest of her post here.

  1. Newspapers did NOT make a huge mistake by giving the content away for free. Duh, look at the Internet. Everything except the porn and the dating services is free.
  2. Journalism CAN be done, and done well, without newspapers. It’s okay if you love newspapers, but they’re really expensive to produce and the audience is abandoning them, as are the advertisers, so it doesn’t help us much to go on talking about newspapers.
  3. Journalism costs a lot of money to do (and especially if it’s done well), because it requires dedicated people. So we can’t pretend that the work will get done for free. It will not.
  4. Citizens and amateurs and well-meaning whistle-blowers, etc., etc., will sometimes commit wonderful acts of journalism. But they will NOT do so reliably, day in and day out, and there aren’t enough of them with the interest, free time, and goodwill to do everything journalists have been doing for about 400 years.
  5. Newspapers were a nice business. Publishers could make the product insanely cheap (remember the penny press), and the advertising would cover the expenses, plus generate fantastic profits. However, this is clearly over. It’s done. It worked for a long time, but now, like trans-Atlantic leisure travel in big passenger ships, it will never work again.
  6. No one today goes to one spot online as the trusted information source. People don’t even go to five or six. Everyone goes to dozens, hundreds — more. A subscription scheme is therefore not workable. (Update: Many people worldwide are not online. I know that. Many people are illiterate and cannot read newspapers. Let’s move on.)
  7. Future generations will not read newspapers. Ever.
  8. Journalism is vital to a democratic system of government, because without independent busybodies (yes, journalists) sticking their nose into everything, governments and large corporations can cheat, oppress, and starve people. (Nobel Prize-winner Amartya Sen famously said there has never been a famine in a democratic country because the news about food shortages or distribution failures cannot be hidden and suppressed.)
  9. The business model to sustain journalism in the 21st century has not been seen yet.
  10. Newspaper companies, in particular, seem unlikely to blaze the trail toward a viable business model for journalism.

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