One of the sites on my daily read list is techdirt. At home, on my desktop, I use a program called FeedDemon to read my daily news, on the go I have Pulse for my phone. I simply take the site suggestions that the programs give me or plug in my own RSS links and the program by schedule delivers the new posts on each site for my reading consumption. In many ways you could say these programs are my newspaper.
I don’t think I’m alone in saying I grew up with newspapers. My father had a subscription to a local paper and every day, whether before school or after I would read the paper. I remember the touch, feel and look of the paper. There is something nostalgic to those memories. I think it would be safe to say reading the newspaper was sort of an institution, something passed down to every generation to be enjoyed. But then something interesting happened, the Internet was born. And over the course of it’s beginnings it would change a lot of things. None the least was the newspaper institution.
While slow to start as soon as the Internet starting gaining public acceptance gaming and tech(nology) news sites starting popping up. In the mid-90s these sites were the counter-culture to print media. They offered up to the minute real time content that couldn’t be matched in print. And so in turn print magazines started falling to wayside finding it difficult to transition to this new reality. The interesting turn of events was that print media didn’t know what to do with open freedom the Internet gave people. Instead of the control the old media once had, things were more open and in turn brought competition. Instead of people being slave to print and what an editor wanted to present to the public, print was turning into obsolete news the minute it was printed.
The other interesting thing was how print media couldn’t figure out how to deal with unlimited advertising. Whereas print had the confining options of space where advertising could be put, online media had the opposite problem, boundless advertising. Which as many know, and have seen, many sites still don’t have a grasp on. And this isn’t the only problem.
Newspapers only serve up news that serves them and their interests. One thing I don’t think I will ever turn to a newspaper for is tech and gaming news. It is one of the reasons I gave up on the nightly news. I’m not looking to be fed only things that those in a news room care about but my interests also. And while one could argue this is the way it’s always been, I question why? The problem lies right before us, that newspapers haven’t changed with the times and thus are loosing their impact on daily lives. And in doing so have let others fill in gaps not realizing they are now the future of the media and leaving the old guard to the wayside. One of the big positives going for newspapers is local news and with the rise of blogs even that hat they could hang their head on is evaporating.
Newspapers are now trying to save themselves by locking themselves down and as techdirt pointed out it’s a failing proposition:
I’ve spent years detailing why these kinds of paywalls don’t work. The short version is that for most newspapers, they just can’t sign up enough users to make it worthwhile. But, more importantly, paywalls actually make the paper less valuable. That’s because lots of people these days read news as part of a collaborative process, in which they want to share what they’re reading via things like Twitter and Facebook. Setting up a paywall makes that a lot harder and a lot more annoying. That makes those publications a lot less valuable in general to readers who can no longer share. On top of that, the paywall shrinks the visits and page views drastically, cutting off the (growing) online advertising opportunities.
The other thing to point out is that as time goes by newspapers are losing the opportunity to control the last advantage they have: To control the reading experience. This is same for the book industry. One of the biggest arguments against new technology is experience. Those who don’t care for technology and e-readers often say it doesn’t feel right, doesn’t look right. Even ignoring the positives (unlimited books in a small package) their argument is starting to lose flavor because of the industry ignoring those things that could have saved them.
About three years ago I was turned onto e-ink technology.
I looked at a couple videos like this and one my first thoughts was how this could be used for books and newspapers. Imagine a device that you could folder up and carry with you that would be update it’s content on demand. Newspapers and books could be reborn with this kind of technology and it isn’t to say they won’t, but have they? Just to satisfy curiosity I looked up the new developments on e-ink and flexible displays and found these:
Instead this is what is being introduced to a whole new generation of readers:
And there lies the problem, the old media is now losing the last thing that could save it. Now this isn’t to say it doesn’t have a chance to sway public opinion, but as this information revolution continues the public is becoming used to the new ways of life. Because of waiting, fear and non-understanding of the current changes, the public is becoming accustomed to consuming their media in new ways that will become the new standards coming out of this revolution. By standing by the side, not influencing change and hoping things will stay the same, new standards are aloud to take control thus helping to continue the irrelevance and downfall of the old. And the locking down of content is only accelerating this end conclusion.