Tuesday, March 17, 2009...3:04 pm

Journalists still don't understand that everything is changing

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As the news hits that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer goes web-only, one of its columnists blames bad management rather than, say, revolutionary social and technological change for the looming death of the American newspaper.

Instead of using the Internet as a complement to its print product, the industry went chasing after the Web and offering its most valuable property — the news it so carefully and expensively gathered — for free, while chasing the chimera that online advertising would support the whole thing.

Well. Yes. 

Actually, the P-I’s Bill Virgin does acknowledge the changes going on in the world (“external factors”), such as the web, no one under the age of 30 paying for anything digital, and a savage publishing recession. But he thinks bad management is more important.

I really don’t. 

Yes, I think publishing can be badly managed. But I think the seismic shift of costly analogue to free digital – with the free extending not just to the product but also to the means of publishing (look, I’m doing it too) – will just wipe away the old way of newspaper publishing, irrespective of that.

No, I’m not saying that is an unalloyed good. But the main loss will be to media owners, publishers, journalists – not to society or the public at large. 

I’m risking just parroting Clay Shirky’s essay on the web publishing revolution. So I won’t – just follow the link. 

But I think it’s worth noting that Bill Virgin at the Seattle P-I just doesn’t get it even as his world crumbles around him. That’s how powerful our preconceptions about how publishing and journalism should look are. [UPDATE: I’ve just stumbled across (though not stumbledupon) Recovering Journalist’s definition of this. Bill Virgin is a printie apparently]

[HT: Media UK Press]

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