I read an interesting piece today about newspapers suffering as much for their propensity to offer a “view from nowhere” as they are from crippled ad revenues.

GigaOM’s Matthew Ingram’s post, “Why newspapers need to lose the ‘view from nowhere,’ cites reasons why it may be in newspapers’ best interest to start taking a position or side.

In it, he quotes “Friday Night Lights” author and reporter Buzz Bissinger, who contends that it’s the traditional editing process that’s to blame for the loss of voice, and thus of newspaper readership.

So should newspapers still be playing it safe considering all the other sources that have emerged?

We all learned in J school — or at least those of us that graduated before Y2K — that if we landed a job on a newsdesk it was our role and obligation to remain neutral and unbiased. (Whether or not we believe straight news stories are ever exempt from bias is another matter, of course.) But many professors are teaching different lessons these days. With burgeoning social media and the evolving blogosphere, readers seek out what they like, and tend to read the articles or publications that speak to them and their position on a wide variety of topics. If you can’t draw them in to your story in an equally engaging manner as the other sources they frequent, it won’t be long before they stop reading.

The conundrum for newspapers, though, is that they’re trying to be more broadly appealing to advertisers than ever. This isn’t a time they’re willing to risk closing any doors.

So although publishers may want to rise to the challenge, let’s face it: Until they uncover the mystery of targeted advertising, their approach to news isn’t likely to change much.

Unfortunately, they may risk losing more eyeballs to tweets and blogs while they continue trying to solve that equation. — Tara McMeekin

Has your newspaper implemented strategies to help bridge the gap between being a reliable news source and competing with social media and bloggers? If so, we’d love to hear about them. Send an email to editors@newsandtech.

(1) comment


Newspapers should indeed be playing safe. Newspaper editors should write what is true and what the readers want to read.
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