Thursday, April 9, 2009

When did you last read a newspaper?

I've been reading quite a lot of stories recently about the demise of the traditional newsprint distributed newspaper. Time was, when i'd have to take the #4 subway from its start point in New York City, to almost the end of the line, and the New York Times kept me engaged.

But, hey, I grew up with newspapers back in my home country. I wrote the first weekly computer-related column in the two major dailies there. We also got the NY Times and the WSJ every day too if we wanted it (it was flown in). There's nothing that beats the ability to scan a newspaper for interesting stories as you read it. I've published a magazine, and a weekly newspaper. I've helped published lots more. I know the drill.

Still, I have not read a physical newspaper in maybe 10 years. And I only read Wired Magazine -- when on a flight. Most of my news are from the newspapers online sites, and blogs. Increasingly, the blogs that I follow tend to break the news, and the papers follow up with stories a few days later, usually on par with the blogs, sometimes better, a lot of the times worse. It all shows up in Google reader for me. I scan maybe over a thousand headlines per day, reading the snippet that comes with many, and clicking through to read the complete article on a few that interests me.

Now the newspapers are complaining that Google is the source of their woes. Last night some idiot (Phil Bronstein) was on Stephen Cobert, and suggested half-jokingly that people should go to jail for not paying for the news. Watch it yourself and see:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Phil Bronstein
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I was never so angry when he said that Google should be paying for linking to newspapers. And that brings me to how at Funadvice, we depend on search traffic. Just imagine if Google had to send us traffic, and also pay us for linking to us. Ha ha ha ha ha.

The problem is that it used to cost tens of thousands of dollars for a full page ad in one of the premium papers for a day. People no longer want the physical paper. And advertisers are steadily going online where the effectiveness of advertising can actually be tracked (wonder of wonders!).

So the old age of ink-stained wretches is almost at an end. I predict that investigative journalism will move to the web. Check out the stellar job that Josh Marshall is doing at TPM Media. They're not complaining. They're completely online. They broke the Justice Department firing scandals, and tons of other stories last year. The thing about TPM is that its (as far as I know) a completely bootstraped operation. They do thing that they can afford. Josh experiments with media, new sites, new ways to do thing constantly. I read stories there every day, because they kick ass with hard hitting news and opinion.

Trust me, the days and the ages of people like David Broder are going away, but not as quickly as i'd like. I just wish they would dissapear and evolve faster.

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