Interesting roundup of a panel discussion on the future of journalism in Chicago. This seems pretty valid:
I’m not one of the young people in the crowd, but I cringed every time when an older person said, ‘Newspapers are giving it away for free.’ They aren’t giving it away for free. Their Internet sites promote the newspaper with very little overhead. Newspapers’ problem isn’t the Web sites; they aren’t utilizing the ad space well on those Web sites.
Newspapers complain about how they ‘don’t make money’ from their Web sites. That shames their own employees who sell ad time on the Web sites. Newspapers should be making lots more money with their Web sites but they don’t seem to know how.
Newspapers are in the journalism business, and quite frankly, they are doing a lousy job of it. The reason we have a lot of Web sites is that consumers have discovered that the news from corporate-owned Web sites may be ‘true,’ but far from a complete picture of what is really going on. When newspapers had a virtual monopoly on information, they succeeded. Now they don’t have that stranglehold, and they are panicking as a result.
It was suggested in the forum that both Chicago newspapers could die. They might. But a new and different newspaper would rise from the ashes, giving Chicagoans what the Tribune and Sun-Times refused to do. Newspapers have to start doing what every other media form does: hustle and work hard. If they do so smartly, they will stick around. If not, something else will take its place.