We may lose someday newspapers in their traditional form, but we’re seeing a flourishing of alternatives fill those lost pieces of pie.
Some are more skeptical of how quickly we’ll be able to bring back the creation of that news, but through variation, experimentation and loyalty, it my well be done.
I very much see a future of journalism handled by an endless collection of small niche, targeted news sites, big investigative work done by nonprofits and foundation-funded, independents, in addition to a handful of big news organizations finding their own niche — the NPR network and modified newspaper businesses like the New York Times owning international, the Wall Street Journal owning business (though they’re competing), USA Today and the Washington Post focusing on the national.
Below, I offer a hastily put together, rough breakdown of that.
- Citizen or participatory journalism — Even if the phrase will be gone, the vehicles may change, but social networking and news creation through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and blogs by citizens will only continue with technology easy, creating constant coverage.
- Local and niche news — Based on geography, industry, coverage, voice or a combination thereof, a limitless stream of content creators owning a demographic. Local newspapers could transition, though continuing with printing for legacy readers, but they will be supplemented or compete with online news startups and,of course, eventually go there themselves. How long? Well, technology and the persistence of legacy readers will determine that.
- Nonprofit investigative reporting — Foundation, private or grant funded, these orgs, claiming independence from lack of advertising focus, will work on the big pieces that private donors feel are most important and most often neglected. I have to think they’ll be largely urban based and heavy in the D.C. area for federal government coverage.
- National news — For the foreseeable future, (some) newspapers are going to exist in some way. The Washington Post won’t have national bureaus, but it surely will continue to compete with online competitors like Politico over government coverage.
- International news — Someone will fill this role. Perhaps the New York Times, for now and in some form, in addition to existing models like NPR and the BBC. Of course, you can bet someone will figure out a revenue driven, online-only international platform like Politico did for domestic big picture news.
- Aggregators — This phenomenon will only mature and blossom, I’d think. The old argument that newspaper editors offered readers balanced coverage will be fed by sites like these, pushing their community to stories across the Web.
Where will local, broadcast and cable TV news operations fit? Might they partner with, say, newspapers or smaller entities to create hybrid models to fit in these or another category?
What other categories might there be?