Citizen Journalists 1 – Newspapers 0?

Rupert Murdoch says that the internet won’t mean the death of newspapers.

On the Huffington Post today, Arianna H says that she is continuing with the cohort of citizen journalists who so succesfully provided content for the “Off the bus” coverage of the US election.  In fact she is expanding their numbers, believing they can make a significant contribution to the site’s editorial process.

I wouldn’t want to bet against either of them, but can they both be right?

The Murdoch argument is that newspapers are failing not because of inroads made by online news sources, but because editors aren’t giving their readers what they want – Charles Warner (writing on HuffPo) has already described that as ” like blaming horses for the decline in the sale of buggy whips because of the invention of the automobile.” So I guess we know where he stands…

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2 responses to “Citizen Journalists 1 – Newspapers 0?

  1. It’s all too easy for producers/suppliers to get carried away with the excitement of advances in the production or delivery of their own product without thinking of the market or audience they are working to.

    Whatever you think of Rupert Murdoch, he has an uncanny knack of betting the farm on something no one else will touch and coming up trumps. He built a media empire (malign influence and all) on recognising what the public want and giving it to them, and he rarely loses that focus. He was certainly the first I can remember to talk of newspaper circulation not just in terms of copies sold, but of numbers reading, reflecting the people who would read a copy of The Sun if they could get their hands on one, even if they would never buy it.

    Perhaps, like the impact of the French Revolution on the progress of western civilisation, it is still too soon to tell whether blogging means the end of newspapers, or just the end of newspapers as we currently know them.

  2. I completely agree that Murdoch knows his stuff – which is why I’m so wary of disagreeing with him. But….

    It’s not that I think that blogging will be the end of newspapers, rather it’s that if HuffPo (and any other online outlet) can use 2,000+ amateur stringers with mobile phone cameras and inquiring minds to provide their content, they have a news gathering resource which no newspaper can match, and a speed of production/distribution which leaves papers standing. Like lots of other people, I no longer buy a paper. I get news from a variety of sources delivered to my inbox via googlereader and I listen to podcasts of news/opinion from British and foreign sources on my way to work rather than grappling with the Guardian in a confined space. And I’m far from being an early adopter of this kind of stuff – good lord I only started blogging last month! Emily Bell on the invaluable MediaGuardian podcast has been arguing for a while that we’re heading for a bloodbath in the newspaper industry. Her argument is that the booming economy has been the only thing that has kept advertising revenues reasonably bouyant in the face of decliing circulation figures, and now the boom has turned to bust jobs are going to be lost in the industry and papers will close.

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