Next Newspaper

Funny thing about the newspaper business.

If you’re interested in innovation, you find yourself constantly trying to demonstrate the present to people with their feet (and desks, workflow, and hierarchy) planted firmly in the past.

And while The Future of Newspapers mostly gets ink for being bleak, the future of news does not blink, or miss a beat, or stop to have a meeting to decide what color the background of its new Web site will be.

The future of news is Qik and Twitter and Friendfeed and Google Reader and Seesmic and Yahoo Live and whatever launches tomorrow that lets the people in your community share information and produce content by pushing a big red record button.

The future of news looks more like Blade Runner than Minority Report. And I don’t mean the part where Deckard reads the print edition. I mean the crazy chaotic floating blimp advertising and the bits of information flowing around mobile screens in places like taxicabs and the exposed innards of machinery.

So stop waiting for The Future of Newspapers to arrive, wrapped in a plastic sleeve with a business model printed on the outside, slipped politely behind the screen door by the paperboy. He got laid off last week. You’re going to have to try something new if you want to survive.

7 thoughts on “Next Newspaper”

  1. Ryan
    Once again – Spot-on. I fear, however, that that as the future of journalism becomes what you describe, it will leave journalism institutions in the dust.

    I was talking about this with my friend Rob Park. He calls it “institutional inertia.” Unfortunately – that inertia is going in the wrong direction.


  2. Right on. The social media aspect of how we all connect, how we share information and make meaning? All for that. It’s how I live.

    Too bad many of us have been so unlucky finding giant piles of money that would convince traditional media owners to embrace the emerging era. It’s a real problem.

    I’m crossing my fingers that the massive public interest in (and content gathering of/for/about) the election this year might be a catalyst for change.


  3. Can somebody please explain to me how Twitter is the future of news? As much as I try to look beyond my conceptions of what news is and will be, and how it’s distributed, I can’t understand how Twitter plays into it. There’s no substance.

    I can see it in some instances, such as Ana Marie Cox’s twitters from the campaign trail, but how is it going to do anything but provide an entertaining distraction? I ask this in all seriousness. Thanks!


  4. @Alex – I think you might want to re-read this post.

    News doesn’t come from a newspaper anymore, or even a news organization, or Ana Marie Cox (although I certainly was a fan of her early stuff at Wonkette).

    News comes from my friends in places like Twitter – a running commentary and filter on the world, whether it’s a live stream of people commenting on a TV debate or “meeting” someone online who has a common interest. I’ve done both, more than once.

    That said, there are ways a news organization can use Twitter – even if its just to push out headlines. Nothing wrong with that, but the whole point of the microblog medium is that it’s a little more personal, maybe a bit more clever than just writing good Web heds.

    If you’re just following a bunch of people who actually answer the question “What are you doing?” then you should try a different track.

    Go to a Twitter search engine like Tweetscan and type in something you’re interested in. Find folks to follow. Get involved. Post often. Participation counts.


  5. @Matt

    Too bad many of us have been so unlucky finding giant piles of money that would convince traditional media owners to embrace the emerging era. It’s a real problem.

    You don’t need that much money up front. Think of how much free stuff is out there on the web, from your CMS to all the tools posted above. The real investments are in time, energy, and the effort to get people thinking in a different direction.

    (If I sound preachy, it’s because I’ve been making this into something of a stump speech lately.)


  6. I thought perhaps my last comment might sound a little sarcastic. I’m actually quite curious about the idea of enterpreneurship and newspapers as personal operations, like ‘zines. Of course, once you have it all set up, you could just leave out the paper and start a blog.


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