Newspapers Screwed Up, Says Jeff Jarvis

Newspapers are really, really sorry that they have to now undergo all these layoffs. At least that’s what they say in every press release, but Jeff Jarvis tells the Huffington Post today that it’s actually all they’re fault that their in this crisis right now.

You’ve had 20 years since the start of the web, 15 years since the creation of the commercial browser and craigslist, a decade since the birth of blogs and Google to understand the changes in the media economy and the new behaviors of the next generation of&#151as you call them, Mr. Murdoch&#151 net natives. You’ve had all that time to reinvent your products, services, and organizations for this new world, to take advantage of new opportunities and efficiencies, to retrain not only your staff but your readers and advertisers, to use the power of your megaphones while you still had it to build what would come next. But you didn’t.

You blew it.

He goes on to discuss the tirade William Dean Singleton, chairman of the Associated Press, had the other day against Google. Rightly he explains that if Google stops linking to newspapers, it’s like you will lose one-third of your readership. Why? Well Jarvis has an answer for that too.

It all goes back to a quote from a college student last year in the New York Times. “If the news is that important, it will find me.” Oh shutter! What, ask Jarvis, are you doing to bring your news to your “new audience”? The expectation that readers will just come to your sites these days because you are the official provider of all the new local news is just faulty.

So what can newspapers do now? Read Jeff Jarvis’s solution after the jump.

So what can you do? Two years, even a year ago, I would have said that you had time to build the networks and frameworks and platforms that would support the ecosystem of news that will come next. I would have said you could retrain your staff to take on new responsibilities: organizing and supporting that ecosystem, curating the best, training people to be the best. I would have advised you to offer your staff members the opportunity to join that ecosystem, setting them up in business. I would have told you to take advantage of the efficiencies the web allows (do what you do best, link to the rest, I used to say). I would have argued that we need to invent new forms of marketing help for an entire new population of businesses-formerly-known-as-advertisers. I did say that. But the financial crisis only accelerated your fall. It didn’t cause the fall, it accelerated it. So now, for many of you, there isn’t time. It’s simply too late. The best thing some of you can do is get out of the way and make room for the next generation of net natives who understand this new economy and society and care about news and will reinvent it, building what comes after you from the ground up. There’s huge opportunity there, for them.

That’s it! That’s all. Move over old guys because these hungry digital reporters are coming for you!