The news (re)cycle

While the Oklahoman works on rolling out NewsOK Beta, a smaller paper in the British Isles has gone for a simpler approach. The Buckinghamshire Advertiser, owned by group operator Trinity Mirror plc and selling 20,000 copies daily, has converted its Web site to a Movable Type blog, complete with RSS feeds and links for Digg, del.icio.us, and Reddit. Of course, all the traditional sections — News, Columns, Sport, and such — are rendered as MT Categories.

Peoria Pundit Billy Dennis says this is “more evidence that print is doomed”:

I’m sure it’s easier to use than any newspaper Web site software I’ve ever tried to use. And I’m sure it’s less complicated than whatever it is the [Peoria] Journal Star uses. Any small newspaper in America can put something like this together — including paying someone to design their template — for several hundred dollars, not to mention the cost of Web hosting, which might cost $100 a month for a dedicated server. It does as good a job as presenting the distributing news in words and pictures as any printing press, which costs much, much more to use. And it doesn’t require any trees be cut down, pulped and transported across the country in trucks or on trains.

And consider that if it costs that little for a newspaper to run, what’s stopping folks — perhaps disgruntled newsies with some start-up capital perhaps — from coming along and doing the same thing and not bothering with a print edition.

I’m not entirely convinced that print is doomed: you can’t line a birdcage with a Web site. Yet. And there are still people who have no particular interest in these here Intratubes. What’s more — well, here’s how Eyebrows McGee tells it (previous link, scroll to comments):

This might come as a shock, but we actually DON’T NEED 24 hour news. There are few things short of tornadoes I need to know about RIGHT THIS INSTANT, and they have sirens for that. (And — shock of shocks — they actually still break into broadcast network television for things that are REALLY important.) And there are a lot of people my age who are opting out of cable TV and 24-hour connectedness in favor of choosing our times and places to get data. The wired generation knows better than the Boomers how empty and repetitive 24-hour data streams can be, because we’ve never lived in a world without them. I was TWO when CNN joined the world. I do not remember a time before 24-hour news and I have never attended a school without a computer lab.

Small wonder, then, that I prefer my news in a single discreet chomp, well-written by competent journalists and analyzed by people who follow a story for years and know its ins and outs. I’ve been surrounded by the vapidity of instant-streaming news since I was an infant. I prefer something a little more substantial and a little less torrential.

By coincidence, the Oklahoman sent me a renewal form today for my print subscription.





5 comments

  1. Dan B »

    7 April 2007 · 3:10 pm

    The final nail in the coffin for newsprint will be the day when you can take the computer screen to the toilet or on a plane as easily as a newspaper or magazine.

  2. MikeSwi... »

    7 April 2007 · 4:39 pm

    Chaz, About the 24-hour news thing: Remember the days when if it was ten after three in the afternoon and you wanted to know what was going on in the world, you had to wait until the top-of-the-hour news on AM radio? There were all of 4 VHF TV stations, none with news until 5:30 (network) 6:00 (local). No all-news radio (except for a year or so when that little station in Midwest City tried it with UPI news and rip ‘n’ read stuff). Obviously no Internet. At 3:10pm and news hungry, you had to wait FIFTY MINUTES to hear the 5-minute wrap-up at 4:00 on KTOK or KOCY. WKY had top-of-the-hour local news for 2 or 3 minutes. A far cry from the current saturation of doom and gloom.

  3. CGHill »

    7 April 2007 · 5:52 pm

    Unless it was Sunday, though, you could hang on for a few minutes until the kid came by with the Oklahoma City Times, which usually hit the streets before four.

  4. MikeSwi... »

    7 April 2007 · 10:42 pm

    How could I forget the Times? I was a weird kid, a news junkie at a young age and I remember loving it when the afternoon paper hit the door. I would always finish it off by checking out the evening prime time schedule when the local stations each bought a little block of space for that evening’s network shows. To this day when I hear the Gunsmoke theme, I am transported back to 1967 or so. Weird. Thanks for reminding me about the Times.

    I’m not so sure this 24-hour instant news is such a good thing either. With a shooting in Atlanta, we know about within 15 minutes when the alarmist looking graphics hit the screen: “Breaking News!” It has made it seem, whether true or not, that things are more out-of-control than they used to be. A rest between news cycles gave people time to cool down and reflect without the instant angry reactions that fill the net within minutes of anything remotely “important.” I love the access to news and information in near real-time, but I am conflicted. The days of tuning in the radio news-on-the-hour, the afternoon paper and three choices at 5:30 was in some strange way comforting, at least in retrospect.

  5. McGehee »

    8 April 2007 · 9:57 am

    A rest between news cycles gave people time to cool down and reflect without the instant angry reactions that fill the net within minutes of anything remotely “important.”

    And it allowed people to remember that, instantaneous communications notwithstanding, it’s still a big country on an even bigger world, and most of the stuff they hear about happening in the world is far, far away.

    People these days waste their concern for others on people half the world away (who are, after all, just moving shadows in the magic lantern), and thus have nothing left to give right in their own hometowns to people who actually breathe the same air.

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