There was an interesting editorial in Sunday’s Capital newspaper discussing the demise of the traditional newspaper. Tom Marquardt, the Editor, suggested that The Capital might shift it’s online version to a site that offers free content as well as premium content for a fee.
It will never work. If they were looking to have a subscriber based website, they needed to do it when HometownAnnapolis.com first came online. As he noted, the Wall Street Journal is purely subscription based and very successful. Tom also criticized the blogosphere and opined that he felt there was no way for them to cover news like a newspaper could.
If you take away those Web sites, the community is left with bloggers who are limited in what they can cover. One blogger can’t cover the same ground as a dozen reporters.
Tom, where have you been? I agree that one blogger cannot cover the same ground as a dozen reporters. One reporter can’t either. But as for bloggers doing what you do only better, I think you are woefully misconstrued. I believe it was Capital Punishment (get the pun?) that broke the story about the Annapolis City Attorney that was not certified to practice law. I believe it was The Arundel Muckraker that broke the story on the sweetheart consulting deals for friends of the Mayor. Did the Capital’s Editor miss the entire last election? The blogosphere has been breaking stories left and right and are only getting stronger each day. Here is a good column on the state of the “news” industry.
Here is where a blogger will excel. They are not restricted to deadlines. Their deadlines are when the news is happening and they can file stories by cell phone if needed. They are not slaves to the AP Stylebook and are able to write more casual and opinionated stories. These stories will make a much deeper connection with the reader (either pro or con) than a newspaper ever could. Importantly, the bogosphere is a community project. The content is directed by those that read it, not someone who feels this is what you should read. There is a subtle difference. And finally, the blogosphere offers the reader the ability to comment. Blogger’s readers are not restricted to snail or e-mailing in letters to the editor in hopes that someone will decide that their opinion is of value–and comments are not limited to 200 words or less.
So, while you say one blogger cannot do the work of a dozen reporters, I do suggest that a dozen bloggers can do the work of a dozen reporters. The blogosphere has many economic advantages over traditional publications. Time will tell.