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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What are newspapers for now that websites deliver the news?

Jack Shafer of Slate is another who's finding the news a little stale in his papers, partly because he, like most media folk, reads news online all day. In a blog post (well worth a read) a while back he asked the question: what are newspapers for now that websites are delivering the news?

He too talked about newspapers being good for the big read, and for 'flow reading'. But he makes another point that I like:

"As good as the Web is at keeping apace with the current, it isn't very good at telling me when my news tank is full. The final editions of well-edited newspapers still do a better job of conveying the most vital news than does a browsing of the Web. It gives readers a yardstick with which to measure the news before they dive in.

"If I had just 10 minutes to catch up on what's happening, I'd rather fan through the paper pages of the Times and Post than click my favorite sites. For decades, the Wall Street Journal has kept its busy readers abreast of the day's most important stories with its Page One "What's News" column. The idea is ripe for adaptation by other newspapers. (Sidebar: I really like the way the Times Reader measures news consumption.)

"I'd like to see newspapers do a better job signaling via text or layout whether pieces contain new news, terrific insight and interpretation, or just more of the same old bollocks that I can get elsewhere, presumably the Web."