“Get the paper out today?”
We get that all the time here at NEWS24/680, and love it. Many of us hail from the Old School days of daily journalism, where the presses thundered and could be stopped only for a World War or first U.S. to Paris flight, and we lived to see our byline on Page One.
Most of the presses are gone now. The newsrooms have slowly been whittled down to bare bones and beyond, and today’s “paper” comes out around the clock, boasting an interaction with its readers the Old Media sheets could never imagine. News, once delivered in 12-hour cycles and left in bundles on urban street corners and news stands, can now be accessed anywhere, at any time, on devices as small and futuristic-looking as a Dick Tracy wrist radio.
It’s a bittersweet coming of age for many of us who grew up loving the pulse-pounding buzz and camaraderie the Old School newsroom afforded. But those who saw the future written alongside the purple prose on the press room wall realized it was time the profession seek out a better way, embrace an emerging technology and make it work for an entirely new audience who still wanted what we had to offer. Just faster.
Even though we’re only a small part of the New Media machine, it’s striking to see how far we have come. We smile and nod when encountering resistance to our offering from those who still prefer the smell of ink and tactile delights derived from flipping through a (scaled down) contemporary newspaper. We understand the position, and share it to some degree, but we also see that resistance erode on an almost daily basis as our engagement levels (the amount of time readers spend on our “pages”) rises and we become more a part of our readers’ daily lives.
“Where are all the ads?”
We get that from time to time, too. It’s kind of a sad metric and another holdover from the Old Days that people link traditional advertising to commercial viability. It’s a changing perception but the fact is that our readers choose to support us in other ways, paying for news offerings and generously donating to our cause. We have taken that level of commitment as even more evidence of the importance our offering holds for our neighbors, and the depth of their allegiance to us.
We don’t take that lightly. As we scan online accounts of daily setbacks for Old Media companies and advances by New Media companies looking for new ways to reach a changing – and demanding – readership, we are reminded of two ageless maxims of our profession: “Journalism will kill you, but it will keep you alive while you’re at it…” and “In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”