Newspapers and TV News: Different sides of the same coin

I keep running into situations and people that remind me of this truth as expressed in the Project for Excellence in Journalism report on the state of Journalism earlier this year:

Online, The Washington Post will not be a newspaper company but a text, picture and video news provider. CBS News will not be a broadcaster. It, too, will be a text, audio and video news organization.
As I’ve written in the past, this idea has profound ramifications at the local level as well, and it’s why I continue to emphasize to my broadcasting brethren that their biggest competitors downstream will be the local newspaper, not necessarily other broadcasters. The question is who’s going to get there first.

I’m reminded of this again today in a wonderful commentary (registration required) by Kathleen Parker of the Orlando Sentinel, who also shares some insight for all the television news people who’re moaning about what a mess the business has become. Apparently, we’re not alone.

It is a depressing time for lovers of newspapers and the old world of print journalism. It is also hard not to wonder whether, in seeking explanations and solutions, we’re suffering from self-delusion and denial.

Let me be blunt. Newspapers bite. The work isn’t much fun anymore, thanks to the soul-snatching corporate culture that has euthanized newsroom personalities. Most papers reflect that numbers-crunching, cubicle-hunkering mentality. We’re boring, predictable, staid and out of touch with the folks with quarters.

With television offering headlines — and Internet blogs offering inspired commentary — why do people want to get their hands dirty reading stale stories that fail to ring the chime of truth?

Declining reader confidence isn’t just about high-profile scandals such as the Jayson Blair/New York Times and Jack Kelley/USA Today debacles. Distrust is also tied to the reality “disconnect” between those who produce newspapers and those who read them.

Sigh. Despite commentary like this, I’m very upbeat about the future. Nostalgia will always be nostalgia, but the new world is so filled with opportunity and hope that I have trouble feeling sorry for anybody. Reinvent yourself! And climb onboard the digital new world train today. This is the most exciting time in the history of journalism to be alive.

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