The Future of news: It’s Not in Print. It’s in Your Pocket or in Your Purse.

1940s reporter working on deadline We may not need print newspapers anymore but we still need the news.

For those of us who care about the future of journalism you will want to take a look at Mindy McAdams’ blog, Teaching Online Journalism.  I landed there serendipitously earlier this week and discovered two very different but perhaps unintentionally related articles.

Perhaps as print dies,the iPhone will emerge as the savior of journalism.

In the first  article, Mindy posits’ 10 simple facts’ that relate to the painful, lingering death of print newspapers and the need for journalism to survive. The following  two facts as she presents them are the most striking to me:

  • Future generations will not read newspapers. Ever.
  • Journalism is vital to a democratic system of government, because without independent busybodies (yes, journalists) sticking their nose into everything, governments and large corporations can cheat, oppress, and starve people. (Nobel Prize-winner Amartya Sen famously said there has never been a famine in a democratic country because the news about food shortages or distribution failures cannot be hidden and suppressed.)

She concludes by admitting that she is not a business type but nonetheless urges that smart people accept those facts and get on with the business of figuring out a new model that will enable journalism to be profitable once print has disappeared.

Perhaps the iPhone holds the key to the future of journalism

While gloom pervades the print newspaper universe, the iPhone is emerging as a surprising repository of custom-designed news from sources such as the New York Times.  Mindy does a great job of explaining and illustrating exactly what Apple has been able to accomplish with its new software.  It is absolute must reading. 

iphone nytimes application

Their famous slogan, “All the news that’s fit to print,” has perhaps been transformed into something new: “We make all the news fit in your iPhone.”

Probably most of you are not the iPhone junkie that I am.   So you may not have been paying attention to the new software applications that will empower news providers such as the New York Times. They can now deliver great journalism on the iPhone that is both readable and visually appealing.

Let’s face it.  For journalism to survive, it must find a way to appeal to a new generation who rely on handheld devices for talking, gaming, instant messaging, reading, navigation, picture taking, and, yes, news gathering.  The new iPhone news applications makes this last activity rewarding and appealing. 

Moreover, there is a hopeful sign that revenue can be attached to this new news outlet.  For the new New York Times iPhone application there are integrated ad banners which are not intrusive and seem to fit a comfortably within the small form factor.

Print newspaper subscriptions continue their dismal downward spiral.  But the new iPhone sold more than one million units in a weekend.  Millions of existing iPhone users downloaded the new software that empowers the likes of the New York Times.

Printing presses may go silent.  But let’s hope that a new model, perhaps foreshadowed by the iPhone and the New York Times, will emerge to displace newsprint just as carbon free autos will replace gas powered SUVs.

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