by Roger Pynn
Rarely do public relations people gather that the question doesn’t arise. “Can newspapers survive?”
A GIGaom report by Mathew Ingram turned my head today and made me wonder if the question really ought to be “What is a newspaper?” Ingram is reporting on the opinions of Joy Mayer who some are calling the “queen of engagement” because she’s preaching that the future of media is a two-way street where journalists have to engage and interact with their readers/followers/friends.
I agree with Mayer on many things. But her guide to for the newsroom of the future has some interesting tips, including the need for “value statements” like “we continually alter what we cover, and how, based on what the audience responds to.”
To which I say, that isn’t a newspaper, Ms. Mayer, it is a highly commercial approach to delivering the news people want to hear rather than what journalists determine they need to hear through careful and thoughtful reportage.
If you follow that “value” to a logical end, newspapers of the future could expect to be manipulated by activists who bombard them every time they publish something they don’t like. Imagine how easy it would be to redirect your local newspaper by “liking” them into not covering your blemishes.
In Ms. Mayer’s world the answer to the question “can newspapers survive?” is very simply a great big “NO,” because they won’t be newspapers they’ll be fulfillment services responding to our every whim rather than doing what newspapers are supposed to do … inform and educate us by employing journalists who will ask the questions we would ask if we could be on the scene when news is breaking.