At Poynter, network collaboration seen as solution while newspaper form fades

Within 10 years, 80-percent of newspaper readership will be gone, and the only way newspaper companies can survive the change is to band together in networks, about 35 publishers, editors, journalists gathered at the Poynter Institute have been told. They gathered Nov. 10-11 at the St. Petersburg, Fla., newspaper education and training facility.


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Journalism is shifting more from a business to a social mission, observed Paul Tash, chairman, CEO and editor of the St. Petersburgh Times, which is owned by the non-profit Poynter Insitutte. Tash told partipants in the seminar, “Who Will Pay for the News?” that he believed something more than a “white paper that doesn’t get read’ needed ultimately to come out of their deliberations. He said Poynter is looking to understand larger parts of the journalism mission than just newspapers. “How can the Poynter Institute adapt its mission to meet the needs of journalism that is going on outside of these commercially based institutions?”

Through two days, Poynter seminar participants returned repeatedly to the question of whether, or how, the public might be expected to pay for informaion. On Tuesday morning, Poynter summit participants were treated to a short summary of research on the demographics and desires of the “millennial” generation – those U.S. adults who are now age 18-30. Poynter faculty member Kelly McBride, whose regular speciality is journalistic ethics, said she had been surveying and would summarize research by the Pew Foundation and Magid Associates. The analysis is important, she said, because the age group is the first to have come of age entirely in the Internet era – and they are not big newspapers readers. So news organization who want them as users need to study them.

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One response to “At Poynter, network collaboration seen as solution while newspaper form fades

  1. One important question that wasn’t discussed at this conference is: “how will serious, in-depth news content survive?” The answer, to some degree, is already out there. NPR is THE venue for serious, in-depth news. Is there a way to take that model and expand it? NPR stations would obviously need many more reporters to even come close to filling the void left by the declining number of newspapers, print reporters and broadcast journalists.

    The future of journalism will depend on schools–middle, high schools and colleges–teaching news literacy. Unless there is a demand for journalism and an appreciation for the role it plays in our democracy, journalism (especially detached from a profitable business model) can’t survive.

    There is an urgency to coming up with answers and an action plan. 2009 will be a bad year for the US economy and a devastating year for newspapers and broadcast outlets. This struggle is not about saving newspapers, it’s about saving news. Poynter or one of the major journalism foundations or journalism schools needs to take the lead on this.

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