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Internet news threatens traditional news channels, but what about print?

Internet news threatens traditional news channels, but what about print?

The term 'journalism' is a large umbrella covering the multitude of media and topics that come under its shelter. Indeed, branding 'journalists' as but a single breed of professional would be to ignore the differences between what a broadcaster, to say a newspaper columnist, does on a daily basis.

But now it seems that in light of the financial crisis that spurred the media crisis, adaptation has been dubbed the key to survival - something that has seen different branches of the media growing ever closer and at some points intertwine. Despite the fact that journalists may be fighting one battle - that being making the news still marketable - in doing so, they might have injured those on their own team.

On Sunday, the Guardian's Media Commentator, Peter Preston, highlighted that time might be running out for news channels such as the BBC's News 24: something he attributes to the fact that Internet can now report the same information just as effectively, which is all the more accessible thanks to faster video streaming. He even goes as far to suggest; "maybe the whole live loopline news business is doomed."

If this is the case, then it is to be expected that broadcasters such as the BBC look to the Internet for opportunities to safeguard its survival. In February, the news corporation announced the launch of three iPhone applications from April, with versions for the Blackberry and phones running Google's Android software becoming available soon thereafter.

Yet The Newspaper Publishers Association (the representative body for all big UK publishers), responded to the news with outrage, accusing the BBC of muscling in on the territory of traditional print publications seeking to generate revenue in the mobile news arena, and calling upon the BBC Trust to "block these damaging plans, which threaten to strangle an important new market for news and information." And so begins a vicious circle.

The move to online for newspapers asks publishers to do more than merely grapple with the question of whether to charge: It asks them to consider how to do so, and perhaps most importantly, what for. For publications that can market themselves as serving a niche, the answer is more readily available, and has seen the FT turn itself around from a failing publication in 2002 to one of the only publications to make a profit last year while the rest of the media was looking just to keep its head above water.

The reality today is that our multi-media society is seeing the boundaries blurred between the different strands of the media: the Internet provides TV, TV outlets write articles, and where does that leave the newspapers?

There is no denying the fact that many newspapers have the facilities to manoeuvre further into the video sphere. The Times for one, has a particularly developed multimedia newsroom. But whether they have the room to manoeuvre themselves into this sphere, is another question altogether.

But what about, as Preston suggests, if newspapers put the focus back on their own currency, and make their unique selling point, that which they have always dealt in: the written word? "If papers are to survive, they must stop playing catch-up to news on the net", Preston writes. Certainly with new E-reading devices pouring into the market monthly, not to mention the now ubiquity of mobiles with app adding capabilities, newspapers have a new platform to step up to, and indeed across which to strut.

Video may have killed the radio star - it may even be set about sealing the fate of channels such as News 24 - but what about newspapers? That is a question that Preston leaves in hands of the newspaper publishers themselves, without pessimism, but only when they "stop playing video catch up".

Source: The Guardian



Helena Humphrey


2010-04-07 14:14

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