The other day, when the latest circulation projections for U.S. newspapers were released, I speculated that the industry might be reaching a tipping point in its decline - a point of lost readership and revenue beyond which there is no recovery.
Jeff Jarvis sees signs of another tipping point - the ascendancy of citizen journalism to a level of acceptance by the legacy news media. Writes Jeff:
"It's wonderful watching what I think is a global warming in mainstream media toward citizens' media. We may just be at the tipping point."
"I know of the heads of at least three national TV news operations who are eager to incorporate citizens' media; I know of more newspaper editors who are finally siddling up to the concept. I hear less and less of the dismissive jabs from big-time editors about small-time citizen journalists. Blogs are now a regular feature on MSNBC and CNN. Bloggers are getting quoted in newspapers and credited with big stories (Trend, Dan, et al). Newspapers are getting published with citizens' news."(Emphasis added.)
As Jeff points out, the big momentum driver during the week was Rupert Murdoch's I-got-religion-and-you-better-too speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors convention.
Murdoch scolded the editors for their complacency, for "quietly hoping" - as he once did - "that this thing called the digital revolution would just limp along" He continued:
"The peculiar challenge then, is for us digital immigrants Ö to apply a digital mindset to a new set of challenges. We need to realize that the next generation of people accessing news and information, whether from newspapers or any other source, have a different set of expectations about the kind of news they will get, including when and how they will get it, where they will get it from, and who they will get it from." (Emphasis added.)
And that, Murdoch says, includes enabling community conversation and citizen journalism:
"Ö our internet site will have to do still more to be competitive. For some, it may have to become the place for conversation. The digital native doesn't send a letter to the editor anymore. She goes online, and starts a blog. We need to be the destination for those bloggers. We need to encourage readers to think of the web as the place to go to engage our reporters and editors in more extended discussions about the way a particular story was reported or researched or presented." (Emphasis added.)
Among the pioneers in integrating blogs into newspapers is Ken Sands, who runs the web operation for the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash. Ken offered some good advice on the Media Centers' blog for traditional reporters who want to dive into the digital waters of blogging:
Blogs should revolve around topics, not personalities.
The subjects should be specific.
Group blogs can work if the group is small, the subject is specific and the duties are carefully assigned and monitored.
Remember that "our readers know more than we do."
Why should journalists blog? In addition to the arguments about transparency, communication and personality, Sands has one that will appeal to publishers: The "staff-written blogs (on spokesmanreview.com) account for about 12.5 percent of the traffic on the entire site."Posted by Tim Porter at April 17, 2005 04:56 PM