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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Well, no, the news has been dead for
some time, and that’s just the way it is.

The most ironic Drudge front page ever? Journalistic ethics aside, how news has been reported has been undergoing changes for a few years now. Seeing that one page today though encapsulated it all. Cronkite and Murrow, the original link portals, have given way to newspapers and branded newsvertainment, and, well link portals that ironically, rely on traditional media sources.

If you have the chance, take a look at this in-depth breakdown of just how Drudge has done it from 2002-2008. While basically a portal for every major news outlet in the world, he does manage to write NY Post-worthy headliner that inflame and amuse. His self-proclaimed centrist leanings aside, it points out something I’ve noticed these past few years:

Much as they bitch about it, the online blogging community needs traditional media.

Oh, and vice-versa. Any blogger that’s run a post about how print and traditional papers are dead miss or ignore one point—many of them reference articles from those same publications in their media dead pool.

That’s splitting hairs of course. I know there’s a difference between the death of physical papers and the bigger notion of “traditional” journalism. Point being, you can’t say traditional journalism is dead, then turn around and use articles from those same sources as blog fodder to riff on.

The financial survival of papers is a longer topic for another post, except to say that while the New York Times may be thinking of a subscription model, I think you’ll need the majority of news sites to join in with them to make it work.

Adding to the mix, news outlets like CNN and MSNBC who are online have the luxury of being supported by their cable channels. Why would you have to worry about banner ads when TV revenue has your back?

(To survive online, maybe local papers should look to sports. Thanks to revenue sharing, the Yankees help make it possible for smaller market teams to survive. Newspapers already have the infrastructure in place. They could agree to align themselves with one of the four major TV networks and be their online affiliates.)

Otherwise, they might lose more readers than they gain. Loyalists say they prefer the level of reporting found in the Times, but who gets their news from only one source anymore? Including sources that don’t have the heritage of a Times or Wall Street Journal.

I don’t mean citizen journalists either. That whole mess is still playing out. Right now, the unfiltered B-roll that is citizen journalism only has one advantage: It’s first. Thing is, being first is not the same as being right, which reinforces the earlier point: Most people who break stories on social networks like Twitter still look to traditional news outlets to confirm their endless Retweets.

Both worlds need the other.

Still, maybe you should take a drive by the New York Times and other major publications while you can. It’s not often you get to show your kids a living breathing dinosaur.

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