Trying to predict the future of the internet or even see how it will become a reliable source of facts, like old-fashioned newspapers and TV reports, is in my opinion the equivalent of standing on the sand spit at Kitty Hawk , North Carolina, and predict the future of aviation.
As the effect of the Internet evolved, the publishers of old wanted it. I was one of them. Although I told the Newsletter Publishers Association a long time ago that it was not enough to publish a story printed on a wire, that they had to develop products for this new medium.
A few got up early and caught the worm while newsletter editors like me slept — including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Economist. They have adopted and adjusted their offerings for the Internet.
These are all publications that have traditionally had a preponderance of readers interested in issues beyond local coverage. The Wall Street Journal has always had a business audience and has adapted quickly.
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The New York Times was able to leverage its global and domestic subscribers and convert them to online reading. The Economist had an obvious business and global business audience to tap into.
The Washington Post’s adoption of the Internet has been more dynamic.
When the Graham family sold The Post to the then-richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, many of us thought he would be another rich man buying a newspaper to run it and enjoy the social opportunities that come with it. franchise. But Bezos saw the future and poured money into the Post, not to keep it alive, but to expand it enormously into the cyberworld. He was right and pulled off an editing stunt.
What hasn’t been seen by anyone I know in the publishing world that isn’t in the literature is that no one has figured out how the internet is going to absorb almost all of the advertising dollars.
Pure Internet companies, on the periphery of publishing, have sucked in publicity, creating great wealth for their owners.
Although they had no editing background and didn’t even consider themselves editors, they added news – often generated by legitimate news outlets – as a giveaway, for which they have not paid; if you write for a newspaper or magazine, you have been scammed by an internet publisher.
The irony is that in the 1980s and 1990s, newspaper and television properties were highly valued and selling for multiples never before imagined. This was when Al Neuharth was building the Gannett Channel and starting USA Today. I knew Neuharth, himself a journalist through and through.
Now that the empire has been sold and many of its once-proud local titles are closed or look more like pamphlets than newspapers. The advertising, and with it the revenue, went to the internet behemoths.
But they are not newspapers and their owners are not publishers. They are aggregators and, thanks to the wonders of the internet, they have a global presence and penetration beyond the wildest dreams of Rupert Murdoch, Conrad Black and the Sulzberger dynasty.
I salute these publications which fight against the Internet by creating daily editions online and keeping alive the profession of yesteryear.
These include The New Yorker and The Spectator, an English magazine trying to gain an American presence.
On a recent visit to Edinburgh, my wife and I walked into a newsagent’s, the traditional British shop that sells newspapers, magazines and sundries, to buy newspapers. Hanging above the entrance to the store was a large blue sign advertising The Scotsman. The owner told my wife that he no longer sells newspapers and no one needs to read them.
If you know there is a war in Ukraine, it is because the mainstream media told you so, because brave reporters are there on the spot, not online. Repeat this line for Iran, China, Mexico not to mention Washington, Toronto, London, Rome, Moscow and Beijing.
We need old media, often called mainstream media. We have earned this nickname. The Hill, Axios and Politico show where journalism could be headed nationally. But who will cover the Statehouse, the school board and the courts? In the dark, all these institutions go astray.
At a courthouse in Prince William County, Virginia, I asked about media coverage. The woman who showed me around sighed and said, “We used to have journalists, they even had their own table, but not anymore.
Lady Justice had closed one eye.
Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
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