March 19, 2013

The Past and the Present of the Future of the News Business

For the past few years, I’ve been leading classes as a part of the W.I.SE. program at Assumption College. Last week we had a fun final class in class on the future of the news business. Mike Benedetti and Tracy Novick talked about the local news scene, how they get and share their news and the work that results from their knowledge of the news.
We talked about politics, education, the quantitative and qualitative differences between content on paper and content on screens of various sizes. Mike brought several issues of Happiness Pony to show how what happens when you need to fit disparate ideas into a confined space.
And then we became an episode of 508: A Show About Worcester.

The class was scheduled to run for five sessions. Snow took out two and we were able to reschedule one. For those of you who need the help of your second-grader on word math problems, it means that we were one class short.
This morning, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released its 2013 report on the state of the media. Their findings matched closely what we were seeing in class:

  • Newsroom cutbacks are affecting the quality of the product and consumers are noticing. 
  • Digital access is accelerating. 
  • Newspaper circulation is holding steady, but ad revenue is plummeting. (The Phoenix closed last week because it couldn’t attracting national advertisers.)
    The situation becomes complex and problematic as sponsored-content, material developed and delivered by companies trying to sell something, becomes indistinguishable from independent stories. 
  • People are using social media and other social contact to learn about news events. 
Students of the news will have plenty to ponder outside the classroom. All we need now is Neon Newsboy.
Via Paleofuture: The Newspaper of Tomorrow: 11 Predictions from Yesteryear