The future of print media

Ireporter.jpgn the past three years, the conversation about the death of newspapers has only gotten louder.

Recently, though, a few voices have caught my ear.

In a long and at times dense piece in the New Yorker called “Out of Print,” Eric Alterman made the latest attempt at chronicling the rise, the fall and the future of newspapers.

The article spends a lengthy portion on how the Huffington Post, considered a liberal, Drudge Report alternative, is pioneering what may be the future for newspapers as we know them.

Arthur Miller once described a good newspaper as “a nation talking to itself.” If only in this respect, the Huffington Post is a great newspaper. It is not unusual for a short blog post to inspire a thousand posts from readers—posts that go off in their own directions and lead to arguments and conversations unrelated to the topic that inspired them. Occasionally, these comments present original perspectives and arguments, but many resemble the graffiti on a bathroom wall.”

It is that democracy that is being injected into media, user-generated reporting and the like, that most scares critics. As the example of a Huffington report incorrectly suggesting those displaced by Hurricane Katrina had taken to eating corpses.

The article’s strongest point is that newspapers and blogs and other forms of new media are converging. Huffington Post is adding traditional elements – like hiring Thomas Edsall, a forty-year veteran of the Washington Post and other papers, as its political editor – and newspapers are accepting the digital age, slowly – with podcasts, online updating and more.

PBS’s Frontline had a four hour special investigating the challenges facing media today. Former Los Angeles Editor Dean Baquet makes some keen insight and gets respect in the industry for it.

(Hat tip to the very popular journalism blog by Howard Owens, where I picked up very nearly all of these sources).