It’s not the paper, stupid!

Another voice on the state of newspaper content

The real problem, Mr. Newspaperman, isn’t that your content isn’t online or isn’t online with multimedia. It’s your content. Specifically, it’s what you report, which stories you publish, and how you publish them to people, who, by the way, have very different individual interests. The problem is the content you’re giving them, stupid; not the platform its on.

Vin Crosbie, Aug, 1, 2007
Do we see a pattern?
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  1. It’s not just the content (as in story choice) either. It’s the inability or unwillingness to keep separate the news pages and the editorial pages. I want the who, what, where, when, and how approach to ‘news’ reporting and leave the ‘why’ to the editorial page.
    Also, finding the content I want on the online editions is much more difficult than it should be. Like too many businesses, it appears that newspapers are more interested in designing their online presence to suit themselves than to suit their readers.

  2. The issue of finding what I want to read is a good one.
    With the amount of content flowing through an online newspaper, one of the challenges is how to make *any* story or ad or bit of content easily findable.
    Excellent search goes a long way, but too often the search engine just doesn’t find it. You could have found it faster through Google. We do need to do better.

  3. Imagine someone opening up a news agency whose highest priority is providing information without judgement. If a big news event happens, they just roll the cameras and show the scene, without commentary, without speculation, without moral lessons.
    Imagine they create a culture of extreme objectivity, firing anyone for the least infraction. Where a photoshopped picture would not only result in firings, but would also provide years of open ridicule. Imagine a news organization that not only admits its errors, but places them on page 1 if they were regarding page 1 stories. What if they had a detailed introspective followup explaining how they would avoid similar errors in the future, what changes they would make?
    What if they had active elements within the organization continuously seeking out any and all biases, no matter how small?
    What if they allowed their customers an open forum, easily viewable by their customers, for pointing out errors, commenting on the stories, making suggestions, etc.?
    The demand for true news is probably small relative to the demand for entertainment and for political cheerleading, but the demand is there, nonetheless. News organizations have been lured by the huge entertainment demand and political cheering demand and abandoned the market for actual news.

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