Dear Blogosphere, There’s more to newspapers than The New York Times

I’ve been holding back on this for a long time, and I write enough about the Web development team at nytimes.com enough to be held to this as well, but really, I’m incredibly tired of reading media and technology bloggers debate the future of news as if the only existing newspaper in the world is The New York Times or other papers of its size, scope, or readership.

Here’s a link to an extremely incomplete list of all the newspapers in the U.S. on Wikipedia.

So please, when you talk about “newspapers” or “the future of news” or anything of the sort, please stop thinking about what will replace The New York Times.  The answers to that are obvious, and we see them now at Politico and HuffPo and niche blogs and even Twitter from time to time.

The far, far more interesting question, from my point of view, is what will replace all those other, smaller, newspapers on that long list, especially the ones in towns without blankets of TV coverage, or public radio, or an existing blog community.

The massive changes in the way we get informed that everyone can easily see the negative (for newspapers) evidence of in the form of major metro layoffs and cratering circulation numbers certainly are taking longer to fully filter down to smaller newspapers in smaller towns, but they are certainly filtering down.

So, if it’s journalism that you’re interested in saving, please don’t worry about solving the problem of the NYT.  Worry about solving the problem of keeping communities informed about themselves as what used to be the easiest way to do so becomes economically unwise.

As the printing press fades from memory, the question isn’t going to be, how do you feel about there being no New York Times, it’s going to be something like:  How do you feel about how much you know about your world?

My world happens to be both bigger and smaller than all the news that’s fit to publish.

/minor rant

6 Replies to “Dear Blogosphere, There’s more to newspapers than The New York Times”

  1. Well said. Another point:

    There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to fixing the business model or improving newspaper Web sites. Different advertisers, different audiences, etc.

    Everyone has to experiment and innovate — you can’t wait to adopt someone else’s model or think things will get better without hard work.

  2. I would file the “NYT is the pinnacle of online journalism” topic in the journalism section of the Frequent Misperceptions drawer. Frequent Misperpections are similar to Frequently Asked Questions, though less internet-popular.

    I’d love to see a break-down of Things Small News Sites Are Doing Well, or Things Medium News Sites Are Doing Well, or Things Large, Non-New York Times Sites Are Doing Well…

  3. True that. You know what would be sweet? Seed fund of a million dollars to give revolving loans to super small local news startups. There’s money to be made and at some point you just have to shut out the news of monoliths tripping over themselves and just do it.

  4. (Just found the post via Christopher Wink)

    A lot of online journos (present company included) refer to the NYT’s multimedia content as the greatest example of what interactive journalism can be. Problem is, the Times has a lot more money, time and staff to throw at these projects compared to the average newspaper. It’s important to check out the outstanding content mid-sized newspapers are producing with comparatively smaller resources and emulate that.

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