Conventional wisdown says that newspapers as institutions are dying. The pundits say our readers are old, our style stodgy, our products too dull and our role unclear at best as new tools for communication continue sprouting, from blogs to Facebook to Flickr to youTube.
My own paper is hardly immune to the trends that are troubling the entire industry. Readers everywhere are increasingly turning to the web, leaving circulation of print editions to dwindle. And, even worse, there are simply fewer readers as people struggle with long hours at work and feel so disconnected from their community that the local paper is almost foreign. Our oldest readers are dying off faster than younger ones replace them. It's not hard to see where that ends.
So those of us who love journalism are searching for ways to reverse the trend, not just to save our livelihoods (though that's a good reason in itself) but because we're convinced that reporters and editors play a crucial role in a free society.
I'm curious to know what those of you who have given it any thought -- and I know there are many who have -- would do differently.
For myself, I've always thought the primary purpose of a newspaper should be to provide a place for the community to talk to itself, but they must also delve deeply into issues that matter, let people laugh together at dopey leaders, showcase injustice and point the way to a brighter future for all of us. They shouldn't take sides, but they should care what happens. I know I do.
But how do we do that in an interactive age, when a reporter's marching orders come not just from an editor, or the normal march of events, but also from a clamoring public that can quickly let you know when a story is resonating with people? I'm genuinely curious.
Those of you reading this blog haven't given up on news. So, tell me, how would you do things ?
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Contact Steve Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org