The Only Things Newspapers Are Good for is Killing Trees

-Newspaper Stack-If you know me, you would know that I’m one of the most avid consumers of content. Then again, it is my job. One type of content that I don’t consume on a daily basis is newspapers. While I visit news sites of individual newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal of the Washington Post, I never purchase a paper and probably never will again. It simply doesn’t make sense for me. The industry is rapidly trying to devise a strategy for saving itself, and they’ve been searching for a strategy for a long time now.

Over the weekend Peter Kafka wrote about a Facebook event targeted at trying to revive demand for the newspaper industry. The “National Buy a Newspaper Day” event has now attracted over 8,000 members. It has grown significantly over the past couple days and continues to grow, but no matter how many people join the event, there’s no way it’s going to save the industry.

Chris Freiberg, the creator of the group, claims that “there are probably a lot of bad people out there who would love to see the newspaper industry go belly up.” Consider me one of them. Selling daily papers is simply a waste of paper. What I don’t want to see though is the elimination of quality journalism and based on some of the journalism that I read daily, I know that there must be a model.

Unfortunately, for most journalists it doesn’t pay a lot. The content industry has been flipped upside down and many are still trying to figure out how to survive in it. I know I sure am. Ultimately, business is all about presenting a good value proposition and that’s one thing that I no longer believe the newspapers to be. Quality content most definitely presents a lot of value to me though and I’m more than willing to pay for that type of content.

I purchase books, occasionally magazines, and I even pay for the Wall Street Journal online. The death of the newspapers was predicted almost 15 years ago. When Craigslist launched back in 1995 it single handedly killed the newspaper’s classified business. They’ve been searching for a model ever since then. Can real journalism still take place in a world without newspapers though? Of course!

Go online to any of the newspapers websites and you’ll find plenty of great reporting. It’s a hustle to make it happen though and fortunately, a lot of those journalists that weren’t hustling to make a living aren’t going to make the cut. I still see quality reporting every day though from people like Kara Swisher, Dan Farber, Mike Arrington, and many others (all in the tech space). They all know how to hustle and get the story.

Real journalism is done out of passion, just like the passion that Chris Freiberg expressed and that Peter Kafka recognized. Without passion and a desire to get the story no matter what the cost, real journalism can’t take place. While the newspaper industry may need to completely redefine itself, ultimately eliminating the newspaper all together, there will still remain journalists with passion. That means the story will be told, no matter what.