Don’t believe the hype

Written by kathy on Tuesday, 19 of September 2006 at 10:24 am

There are lots of commentators predicting the death of newspapers. They point to falling circulation and the shift in advertising dollars from print to other media, including the Internet.

I don’t argue that the newspaper industry is undergoing a transition. But, it’s irresponsible to assume we are not actively participating in our transition. Sure, change is slow and our readers and advertisers are probably moving faster than we are right now. But, if you look closely, we are moving.

At the tiny Pocono Record, for example, we break news first on our Web site. Recently, there was a fire in downtown Stroudsburg around 9:30 p.m. We had it first on our site with pictures and subscribers to our text alert service got the news on their cell phones soon after.

The ongoing news reporting through multiple media makes our print presentation, which more than 50% of the market still wants, that much stronger. We were recognized by the Poytner Institute for our front-page coverage of that story. Click here for a screenshot of the coverage.

We recently started producing audio slideshows. The slideshows are a great way to capture the emotion of a scene through sounds that complement the fantastic photography of our staff photographers. Some would say, “big deal, lots of sites do this and even do video.” Well, they’re right. And we have plans to start capturing stories with video but I don’t think it’s the technology that’s makes a difference.

Anyone can do a slideshow. I make them for my family but that doesn’t mean they are any good. Any can shoot video.

But doing it well is a lot harder than it looks. Our reporters, photographers and editors are trained to tell compelling stories in ways that capture imagination and inform. To say it’s responsible is an understatement. We have a public duty to report. Do the millions of bloggers out there hold the same duty? I doubt it.

And who blogs about the Poconos anyway? Who reports on what the school board discussed last night? Who captures the images of the local 9/11 Memorial Ceremony to share with those who couldn’t attend? Who goes to every high school football games, writes down the statistics, takes pictures of the best plays, and compiles all that information into a package for online and print readers to engage with at their leisure?

Well, no one does that except the Pocono Record.

Are there challenges facing us and the industry at large? Absolutely. Are we sitting around doing nothing about it? Absolutely not.
Great content wins the day. Our business might be different in a few years, but we’ll still be the public record for the Poconos for many years to come.

My friend and colleague at the Knoxville News Sentinel wrote this in his blog:

The number one thing that newspapers have is that a newspaper throws away more content in a day than Yahoo makes in a year.

Shawn Riegsecker, CEO of Centro, a Chicago-based media buying firm

Riegsecker was speaking Tuesday at the Newspaper Association of America conference for newspaper investors. The quote was in a story in Online Media Daily from MediaPost CommunicationsHis point was the biggest advantage newspaper Web sites have over competitors like portal sites is a large amount of quality content that advertisers want to be placed alongside, the article said.

Another notable comment in the story was that Tribune Co. said interactive revenues will be $225 million or 6 percent of publishing revenues this year and will be 12 to 15 percent within four years.

Dying? No. Different? Yes.

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The Schwartz Family is an active American family living in the northeast region of Pennsylvania. This site is a way to keep in touch with friends and family while also keeping up with and trying the latest technology. So, if something doesn't work, please let us know!