Goldberg: bloggers are basically recyclers

Chris Mackowski at the PR Desk sends along this column by Jonah Goldberg on newspapers and blogs, in which he explains that newspapers aren’t dead and that blogs aren’t really anything new:

There’s no denying that the media landscape is changing right before our eyes. But, then, it has never stopped changing. Newspapers have been in decline for more than two decades – since long before the Internet became a media player. The “Big Three” nightly news broadcasts have been bleeding viewers for a long time as well. Today the average age of the nightly network news viewer is 60 and rising, while the share of viewers under the age of 35 is less than 10 percent. CBS News is contemplating ideas to get younger viewers, but it’s hard to see how anyone watching “Pimp My Ride” is going to switch to “CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer,” even if the camera work is da bomb.

But none of the newspaper industry’s woes necessarily translate into the utopian fantasy of a world where blogs rule supreme and where editors and anchormen are hunted like Charlton Heston in “Planet of the Apes” (Dan Rather: “Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty blogger!”). And it’s not all bad news, either. In Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, The Examiner newspapers are challenging the assumption that dead-tree news is, uh, dead.•••

I’d have a couple quick comments.

First, blogs are not something completely new and diff, as Goldberg says. They’re formatically different because the tech has changed and the applications have morphed, but in most ways what you see in the blogosphere isn’t all that different from what you saw on UseNet circa 1992. And I don’t see blogs as somehow an alternative to papers, at least, not as things stand now. They represent a somewhat different way of doing some of the the same things papers do, perhaps, but until such time as the blogosphere develops the resources to power a legit raw reportage function, it’s going to be inherently limited in its ability to talk about the world independent of the existing news industry. It’s my expectation that eventually newspapers are going to figure some things out and then you’ll have an integration between the two. So in all this, Goldberg is pretty on point.

Second, though, is a basic fact: the companies that own papers right now are almost pathologically trapped in their own assumptions. They have locked themselves in a box and swallowed the key. As long as they wall themselves off from real innovators, there will continue to be an ill-informed appearance that blogs are a full-on alternative. That gets us nowhere, and fast….

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