The Vanishing Newspaper Webcast

The Vanishing Newspaper

Host: Jeff Jarvis, and

Webcast panel:
Sefan Dill, Santa Fe New Mexican
Mary Lou Fulton, The Bakersfield Californian
Phil Meyer, UNC, Chapel Hill
Tim Porter, Tomorrow’s Workforce

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

More details and links are in the blog post about the Webcast.

Phil Meyer, The Vanishing Newspaper:

Professor Meyer began the discussion with some research about the decline in print newspaper readership. He explained that at the current rate of decline, the last person will stop reading the newspaper in April, 2040.

New technology is changing the business model so much that improving the quality of the news isn’t going to be enough to keep up.

Tim Porter, Tomorrow’s Workforce:

Perhaps other qualities besides an ability to write are important in a journalist. Most papers lack local news, items about people. Newspapers need to be more grassrootsy.

What can we do to save journalism? Many of the principles are quite important and are worth saving. For example, the truth is very important, as is loyalty. How can we redefine the key principles of journalism in light of new media?

Media convergence is changing things, too. Porter mentioned a number of newspapers that are expanding into broadcast and foreign language editions.

Stefan Dill, Web editor, Santa Fe New Mexican:

What’s news? If a house in your neighborhood burns down, it’s news to you and your neighbors and could be important. But will someone in a city ten states over care?

News doesn’t operate in a vacuum, it’s an integral part of society. Sometimes, though, it seems like it operates on its own without regard to readers or society.

News is passive, but it doesn’t have to be. How can we get people to become active participants in the news cycle? Blogging, perhaps. What else? Engaging readers with interactive Web sites, forums, feeds, podcasts, rearranging Web pages, portals, etc. They’ll let you know how they want to interact.

Mary Lou Fulton, The Bakersfield Californian

Yeah, sure, we’re in the business of news and journalism, but we also need to be involved in many other things. What’s wrong with giving editorial control to people in the community through citizen journalism projects?

Re-editing for audiences is important. People are doing this sort of thing anyway. Why can’t we offer customized content to key groups?

Questions and Answers:

Q: Are readers an outdated term?
A: Jeff Jarviws answered with quotes from Jay Rosen about how readers are now writers and from Dave Winer about how we’re all journalists.

At some point, they showed results of a poll asking whether media outlets will die out in 10 years. Forty-four percent of respondents said yes.

I don’t remember anyone talking about financial details, reasons people might be ending their subscriptions, or whether people have just stopped paying attention to the news or if they’re getting news elsewhere.


The technology used for the Webcast is really spiffy. There’s something that’s showing the presenter’s slides as well as playing sound. People can type questions in a sidebar. The questions are supposed to be for the presenters, but people are using them to communicate general things, too, like “I can’t see the slides,” “here’s how to see the slides,” etc. It’s nice that we can see everyone’s questions. We’re also getting an idea of who’s in the audience because some people are identifying themselves.

They polled the audience to find out who’s here. Jeff Jarvis whined that there are no bloggers listening. Well, I’m listening, but I didn’t answer as a blogger because I think the question was asking about our primary identity. There wasn’t a category for librarian, so I selected Other.

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