Thursday, March 03, 2005

Do they or don't they?

Savvy newspapers have a future, reports The Oz. Well, yes, they probably do. Thing is, it may not be in print. But even if it is APN News & Media CEO Brendan Hopkins is a little too bullish for my liking.

Hopkins is:
"dismissive of the internet's impact on newspapers. He did not believe it could replace newspapers as long as publishers kept innovating. Then, the internet would 'become just another delivery mechanism in the same way as radio and everything else'."
That's too simplistic by far. It might sound like an echo from Marshall McLuhan but it's not. In 1964, in his seminal Understanding the Media, McLuhan wrote "A new medium is never an addition to an old one, nor does it leave the old one in peace. It never ceases to oppress the older media until it finds new shapes and positions for them."

That phrase - new shapes and positions - is very important. Unfortunately Hopkins glosses over its implications.

He does make an interesting observation about the changing emphases within news organisations, though:

"Gone are the days when there were two powerhouses of any good newspaper: the newsroom and the advertising sales force ... the editorial and advertising teams must now be joined, directed and in some cases led by the product development and marketers as the third force in newspaper publishing."
Editorial excellence on its own is no longer enough to sell papers. Newspapers need to achieve publishing excellence.

Peter Wilson weighs in on the same page (of the printed version) with a piece about attempts by the Evening Standard to halt declining circulation figures by producing a free lunchtime paper ahead of their evening edition. Simon Jenkins had covered the bases in last month's Prospect.

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