Content Providers – Part 1

I have been interested in information content providers for some time and noticed what seems to be an uptick in comments related to this topic this past week or so. This morning, my local paper, the Grand Forks Herald, ran an editorial from the publisher focused on the present economic challenges to the newspaper industry. This evening, Andy Rooney’s closing piece on 60 minutes was about newspapers. While these editorials did not reference similar concerns expressed elsewhere (e.g., recent closure of the Rocky Mountain News), both concerned the threat to the newspaper as we know it.

Everyone seems to have a different take on the problem. Leo Laporte, a podcaster I follow, often comments on the unintended outcome of Craig’sList, taking away ad dollars from local papers. Why pay when you can advertize for free? The editorial in my local paper commented on the faster pace of things and the counter strategy of writing articles of a shorter length.

Blogger and author Clay Shirky has been writing about the newspaper business lately (also see posts previous to the one accessed via this link). His conclusion:

Round and round this goes, with the people committed to saving newspapers demanding to know “If the old model is broken, what will work in its place?” To which the answer is: Nothing. Nothing will work. There is no general model for newspapers to replace the one the internet just broke.

Shirky makes the same observation I make – who actually collects the news, the primary source content that requires reporters, digging, authentication, etc. Who sends out people to watch and listen – just in case. Bloggers are not the answer – most of what we do is spin what we read. Most of us, at best, are secondary source people. We comment, but we do not gather the basic information that needs to be shared.

One more reference (just to clear that section of my gmail account where I have collected these items in the past few days whether the content was posted this recently or not) – the BivingsReport – summarized recent efforts of newspapers to extend their reach with blogs and other forms of online content. How are papers extending their reach by offering web conent?

Not sure where I think this is going. Will something rise up to replace newspapers if the traditional or modified model of news publication fails? Wrong area for me to assume I know enough to have anything of value to declare. I do see similarities between the newspaper industry and the book business. I know a little more about writing books and I have a bias because of my involvement in generating a book that brings me revenue. I guess the bottom line question is whether what we once considered quality content will be generated when funding models either change or no longer exist. I have another post coming on this topic. Without searching, I have come across a couple of quality wiki-book projects in the past week or so. I will identify these resources, plug my own similar project, and speculate regarding the motives of folks who put together major projects without a plan for financial gain.

P.S. – One day laterSeattle Post-Intelligencer switches to web

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