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Seeding the Blogosphere; Newspapers' Future

Anyone with an interest in in the future of newspapers should give Shane Richmond's blog a read. A recent post on how newspapers should use their brands and resources (reporters, etc.) to seed conversation within the blogosphere is a rare example of someone within Old Journalism totally getting how to position traditional media for the Web. Richmond, a news editor with Telegraph.co.uk, argues many bloggers are commenting on content produced by news organizations such as newspapers. This is a positive news. Why? One, it suggests newspapers are still relevant within a Web World of Google News/Digg/Techmeme world; and two, it should, in theory, drive more traffic to newspaper Web sites as people search for news producers in addition to content commentators. This, in theory, should make newspaper Web sites more attractive to advertisers looking for strong, well-branded, credible destinations in a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to sort through the moutains of content being created.
  As a journalist increasingly aware of the impact of the Web on the newspaper business, the last two paragraphs of Richmond's post are encouraging:

“To the naysayers, newspapers are surrounded on all sides. There are news aggregators to the left of us and wire services to the right os. But it doesn't have to the Valley of Death. If we shake off some old ways of thinking and begin to work with this new world instead of against it, we can build a better media.
We shouldn't feel we're surrendering to aggregators. We should be joining in. This is the most exciting time for newspapers for at least 20 years. If we stopped being so negative, we might actually enjoy it.”

Update: Slate's Jack Shafer piles into the newspapers are dying conversation with a doom and gloom story about shrinking newsroom and disappearing sections. He suggests, however, while newspapers are dying, there is plenty of demand for information, which ties into Shane Richmond's argument. Shafer suggests newspapers need to change their stripes and look at other platforms (cell phones, free tabloids, Web sites, etc.) to expand their audience. Here's an interesting paragraph:

“As much as people may have given up the newspaper habit, their appetite for news has become insatiable, [and] news companies are learning. The 1.1 million-circulation New York Times served 25 million unique readers in April via its NYtimes.com Web site, according to its own logs. Washingtonpost.com, which serves 80% of its audience outside the D.C. area, has made the Washington Post a national newspaper.

Shafer highlights what is becoming an increasingly obvious – but very difficult – strategic challenge for newspaper publishers, which need to start moving towards different platforms aggressively and with more urgency. Whether it's the Web, RSS, blogs, podcasts or cell phones, newspapers need jump into the digital information world – and not by launching Web sites that simply repurposed newspapers. Forget about online subscriptions, walled gardens or blogs that don't link out to other sources of information, the information world is changing. If newspapers don't adopt, they'll die.

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