December 5th, 2008
The rise of social media and the demise of newspapers
By Ron Sylvester
I remember a kind of panic going through the newspaper industry — around 1989.
Young people weren’t reading newspapers, and there was a great amount of money being spent trying to figure out how to change that.
“How are we going to get the next generation to read the newspaper?” publishers asked. They spent a lot of money making youth-oriented sections for newspapers that went unread.
Now we know the answer to that question: We’re not. But we were asking the wrong question. The question should have been: How are we going to get information to the next generation? If we’d asked that in 1989, someone in the news industry might have developed Facebook, MySpace or Twitter. Instead, journalists are left to catch up with social networking — the tool that’s being used to pass information.
To succeed in that arena we have to be social. Patrick Thornton guides us with on Beatblogging.org dealing with how have have to stop hiding behind bylines and put ourselves out there.
“I don’t think social media will really work for journalists, unless we are willing to share a little bit about ourselves and our personalities,” Thornton quotes journalism professor Carrie Brown from a video.
Meanwhile, newspapers may be disappearing faster than we can Twitter about it. Editor & Publisher blogger Mark Fitzgerald says we could begin seeing the first cities beginning to lose their newspapers next year, according to the Fitch Ratings service.
“Fitch believes more newspapers and newspaper groups will default, be shut down and be liquidated in 2009 and several cities could go without a daily print newspaper by 2010,” the credit ratings firm said in a report on the outlook for U.S. media and entertainment.