29 May 2008

Switching to digital media for the news

“There are those of us who no longer read a newspaper’s print edition, and we’re not coming back. It’s now time to consider some options to keep Web readers on the hook – and to even turn them into profits.”
Steve Outing, journalist

I gave up reading newspapers in the early 1990s and switched to TV. My morning ritual was to switch on my TV and watch the news on BBC World and CNN. A mug of steaming coffee in hand, I would switch channels between BBC World and CNN, and compare the news and its treatment by the two news delivery agencies. Much later in the day would I look at the newspapers – mainly to catch up on national and local news.

Today, even this ritual has changed. I, now, rely on the Internet for most of my news: international, national and local. Not to mention gathering news from email alerts I receive every day. Of course, I understand that, in India, with her growing print publications and TV channels attracting more and more readers and viewers every year, I’m in an insignificant minority. But internationally, I seem to belong to a new segment of media consumers.

According to Steve Outing, in his article Serving Those Who Don't Read the Print Edition in Editor & Publisher, “the growing number of people like me – those who used to read print editions of newspapers but have switched to digital media for their news – as well as people who have never read newspapers but still have needs for local news and information” need to be served news differently – most certainly digitally – by news organisations.

“And it’s not only because new technology provides an excellent – many would say better – alternative to the old printed form,” says Outing in his article. “There are environmental concerns about supporting a product that consumes precious resources: trees for the product and oil for delivery. Continuing to receive printed newspapers delivered by pollution-spewing delivery vehicles when an environmentally friendly digital alternative is available is also a moral choice that a growing number of people will make in the years ahead, as the Green movement continues to gain momentum.”

Although important, still leaving environmental concerns aside, Outing points out that, “Those of us who’ve given up the newspaper print edition haven’t changed all that much. We still want news – just in a format that’s more relevant to our lives in the age of the broadband Internet and mobile connectivity. We haven’t given up on newspapers; we’ve given up on the traditional platform. Former print-edition readers still want the news delivered to them, so newspaper publishers need to put more effort into developing useful digital delivery services.”

Steve Outing has a great deal more to say on this topic, recommending possible solutions to today’s media companies. If you’re keen on reading Outing’s entire article in Editor & Publisher online, you can find it here.

[Citation: Serving Those Who Don't Read the Print Edition by Steve Outing, Editor & Publisher, Stop The Presses By Steve Outing, 28 May 2008.]

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