Thursday, February 19, 2009

What We Will And Will Not Miss When Newspapers Are Gone

Seth Godin gives a figure - 2% - the budget share of investigative reporting and serious coverage of important issues at a typical paper. Seth goes on to write what he will miss when the printed newspapers are gone and his main point is: some things are best found on the web and some things only a resourceful newspaper can do.
Some people say that the majority don't care about investigative journalism.

But the customer isn't always right. Besides, investigative journalism pays out through book deals, film/TV deals and most importantly, by building brand value. People still remember The Washington Post through the Watergate Scandal.

Things that we will not miss

- Sports, weather, op-eds, comics, books, theatre, restaurant and movie reviews: already available on the web
- Beat Reporting: Better done online with readers' help
- Page long ads and ads covering the front page
- The stuff that goes in newspaper production & distribution: trees, woodpulp, printing presses, typesetting machines, delivery trucks, those stands on the street and the newsstand
- Media Owner's political opinions masquerading as news
- Unnecessary health scares
- Stories about Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie, Rhianna and how great Justin Timberlake is
- "Product news" story that is just a Press Release
- "Fresh news" that's just rehashed from other sources without attribution

Things that we will miss

- Local news
- Investigative journalism: Special reports, deepr investigations
- Intelligent coverage of national news
- Editorials and op-eds that are genuine conversation starters
- Abuse of power - Uncovering corrupt officials; Examining pieces of legislation
- Political and Social Satire Cartoons: excellent sources of education
- Infographics: another excellent source of information
- The newspaper legal staff: necessary to back you up when you are up against the big guns.
- Jobs generated by publishing newspapers. Printing jobs, office jobs, delivery jobs
- Our physical relationship with the paper - and the ink. + the typography and design [e.g. The Times Magazine's elegant look]
- Cutting and sharing articles
- Crosswords and Sudoku
- The Serendipity. You never know what's on the next page
- The Sunday Section. Window shopping the Sunday ads.
- Sharing the big weekend paper with family during breakfast: and shared news experience in general
- The letters page (online, only The Economist has been able to replicate it through the letters section).
- Alternative distribution media - inserts, goods through the newspaper deliveryman
- Local Newspaper of record: Worldwide, newspapers serve important legal functions - Notices to Creditors, Calls for Tenders, Obituaries/estate notices, Notices of Hearings/Public Meetings, etc.) that are important to meet regulatory requirements
- No need of batteries and power to read the news [unless it is nighttime]
- Not being able to tell what is 'real news' and what is 'created news'

- Alternate uses for the paper: packing materials, burning, ass wiping...
- Free Clothing and blanket for the homeless.

Vote for your choice:
I have created a poll on Bighow Poll about 20 things that we will miss when newspapers are gone: What will you you miss?

Recommended Reading
Jeff Jarvis: Newsroom Economics
Cutting up the Newsroom

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At 12:44 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some suggest that newspapers drop their weekday editions and just print a weekend edition with all the extras. Based on your "miss" list, that looks like a good idea.

I agree -- I'd miss the serendipity factor of newspapers (though I am now finding that online too - that's how I found this post).

I'd miss daily crosswords and suduko.

I won't miss cutting and sharing articles. That's easier to do online with tools like

I hope we can find another way to fund investigative/serious reporting.


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