The Future of Newspapers

Some thoughts from a WaPo editor about the subject we discussed last week.

From the editorial:

“If General Motors goes under, there will still be cars. And if the New York Times disappears, there will still be news.”


Filed under Media, newspapers

7 responses to “The Future of Newspapers

  1. Zippy

    No comments?

    Here’s mine: I think Kinsley is nuts. No mention of the concentration of media into smaller and smaller hands? No acknowledgment of what alarms thoughtful bloggers everywhere, mainly that blogs do NOT produce original journalism? The only salient thing he said was this:
    “But will there be a Baghdad bureau? Will there be resources to expose a future Watergate? Will you be able to get your news straight and not in an ideological fog of blogs? Yes, why not — if there are customers for these things.”

    The real problem: We have become a society on the run, grabbing our new bites the way we consume a McBiscuit on the way to work. Yeah, one can argue it was always that way, but these days we are awash is crappy infotainment. The president of an African country is assassinated and cut into pieces, but nobody cares. What’s the Octomon doing today?

    Newspapers partially shots themselves in the foot by declining to adapt to the new model (and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer isn’t doing it either, as it’s web-based site is a pale shadow of its former self).

    That’s one thing Kinsley got right: people are belatedly proferring solutions. In an Internet age, the Web presence is crucial. Yes, offer free stuff–you gotta do it–but charge for the goodies. Try to keep your print version alive (dead-tree news does matter), by pushing important features not available online. And, fer cryin’ out loud, when someone wants a Sunday paper at their local heart-attack restaurant, if you’ve got the funds (a big if), upgrade the boxes–many people don’t carry cash these days, let alone six quarters.

    Rant off, and I gotta run. Later!

  2. I think that horse is out of the barn (by not providing everything on-line that is in the print edition). JMO.

    As to upgrading the boxes, yes; it needs to be done, but the costs of maintenance, I fear, would add substantially to the costs of conversion to dollar bill readers. Perhaps always being in possession of a roll of quarters is the answer; otherwise, I don’t have any simple solution.

  3. fnord

    I haven’t been “in possession of a roll of quarters” since buying my first washing machine. I do remember the laundry quarters that we carefully saved, and I’m glad those days are gone.

    Can you do laundry for quarters today? Do the dryers still take dimes?

  4. Now that you ask, fnord;

    While it has been about one year, and the locale Waterville, Maine, all washing machines took quarters; six of them, as I recall, were required to start a standard sized one. As to the dryers, the day of slugging a dime or two into them is over; quarters only (at least there).

    And, yes, we made sure (by visiting a bank) to have quarters with us (two rolls), although there was this huge change machine in the laundromat that could handle denominations of Federal Reserve Notes up to and including a twenty. While we were there, a lady came in and put a twenty in the machine, and it was like hitting the jackpot on a quarter slot (only limited to $20); quarters started dropping into the holder so fast, they were running over the edges, etc. Truly amazing.

    When the elder went off to school, her mother and I made sure she had several rolls of quarters with her, so she could do her laundry (we later learned that we were among the very few parents who had such foresight). By the time she had graduated, and when the younger went off to school, the “all purpose i.d. card” was used to pay for laundry. We didn’t know for sure in the case of the younger, so we sent her with quarters, too, and then once we found out when she was moving into the residence hall, we used the quarters to charge up her card so she, too, could do her laundry.

  5. fnord

    The last time I tried to find a laundromat on a trip was in Ireland. In fact, since there were four of us in a small rental car (don’t try a big car if you’re planning to drive along the coasts of Ireland!) and we were going to be there two weeks, we planned to take a week’s worth of clothes and do laundry mid way.

    Well, the Irish have a problem with “Irish Travellers,” who might be called gypsies other places. It seems they would take up residence in the do-it-yourself laundries — for a quarter or few they could be there legally doing what the business intended. Except they only put the quarter or few in when necessary to prove why they were there. They drove actual paying customers off! It became such a problem the laundries closed, or at best turned into pay by the pound and we’ll do your laundry.

    Well, after lots of driving round (literally! the Irish love roundabouts) and finally asking we learned all this and where we could drop the dirties. My sister and I, knowing nothing, decided on the cheaper price which was just wash and dry — thinking we would fold and or press / iron whatever needed it.

    Soooooooo, the next day we picked up our laundry and found it had been taken from an extremely hot dryer and stuffed willy nilly into a too-small brown paper bag — tightly! This caused all the clothes to be terribly wrinkled and since they were tightly squeezed into the bag while still hot, the wrinkles were there permanently. We didn’t know how permanently at first.

    Sis and I ordered up ironing boards and irons from the guest house, sent the guys for take in and liberal liquid refreshments (we planned to make this a party!) and set about ironing out the wrinkles. We used steam, we used a wet washcloth placed on the wrinkles and then applied the hot iron… Finally, we wore wrinkled clothes the balance of the trip. Oh, and both sis and I woke up the next morning with terrible headaches from our … party. đŸ˜¦

    We literally had to discard some of the clothes that were never again wearable!

  6. tosmarttobegop

    Posted April 27, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Permalink
    It’s not the newspapers job to scrutinize.
    It’s job is to report the news. It is our job as citizens to scrutinize by applying our beliefs and ideals to the facts that are reported.

    I disagree with that, few citizens actually have the time or to be frank the interest to scrutinize.
    One of the greatest downfalls for the newspapers is that they have the time to scrutinize while the other medias have the race to break the news first.

    A newspaper has the space and the time to get the information in an orderly manner i.e. to scrutinize.
    Going back in history and the build-up to the invasion, two reporters for the main Knight/Ritter news organization which BTW owned the WE at the time. Questioned the facts and assertions of the Bush Administration’s build-up for the invasion. And found several incidences where the facts did not support the assertions. Yet as with our hometown paper many ignored and glossed over the scrutinizing.

    The media and that includes News Papers choose the news to report based on public opinion rather then to report the news and to scrutinize the reported information. So where was the citizens to go?
    Beliefs and ideals, otherwise to say to round the news to only that which we choose to believes.
    To be as the first informed cancer patent, disbelief and denial of the truths of the inquiry.

  7. tosmarttobegop

    In the open this is the rear research I mentioned for a post.