Expanding on yesterday evening’s post. I need to be clear that I am not arguing or expecting that newspapers instantly change.
Right now, effort has to go into maintaining newspapers. The mass-media, value-for-everybody model — even if it is dying — needs to continue. Print still carries the water and newspapers need to be broadly-based to continue to hold whatever readers and advertising they can, and that means a mix of serious journalism and the lighter stuff that entertains, informs and engages readers and gives the sales rep content to sell against. Major change is coming but newspapers won’t be able to dive into it unless they have a base to jump from.
But, for my liking, there’s not enough discussion about what the “next newspaper” is going to be in anything other than general terms: smaller, shorter staffed, hyperlocal, less dominant, etc.
If serious journalism — another of the terms that gets thrown around — is what is really important, how do we maintain that? Maybe the better question is, in a time of reduced resources what has to go — not now, but eventually — to keep the serious journalism?
If we zero-based the newspaper, went back to nothing and rebuilt it using the available resources, or the resources that are likely to be available, what would a newspaper committed to the serious journalism look like? What staff would it need and what would those folks be doing?
That is the thought exercise/discussion that I’m not seeing in any fundamental way. We continue to hear about the need to save serious journalism, and the big questions continues to be, who pays? There is no extended discussion that I can find to answer the question: if what newspapers have is what they have, what do they need to do to — what price are they willing to pay in terms of shedding some of the other stuff they do — to ensure that the serious journalism keeps getting done?