Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

July 10, 2009


John Temple - What would happen if publishers and editors read only on the Web for two weeks? Now that I'm on the outside of the news business, I've had more time on my hands and more time has meant more of an opportunity to explore everything from Twitter and Facebook to iGoogle and the Web sites of numerous news outlets. . .

The experience has made me realize something I should have done when I was an editor/publisher. I should have gone cold turkey on the print edition of my own and other newspapers for two weeks or a month and determined what life was like for those who were living solely in a digital world. . .

If they would try this, I think newspaper executives would quickly see flaws in their offerings and would also more clearly understand the flood tide that is running. I'm not writing to criticize specifically what papers are doing online. Only to say that my experience being outside a newspaper tells me that other executives while they still have a chance might want to experience the world without their newspaper. I believe it would hasten their sense of urgency. . .

They could consider this exercise a competitive analysis if they must. But whatever they call it, weaning themselves from the paper for a brief period could be a big help.

Temple is the former editor, president and publisher of the now closed Rocky Mountain News


Anonymous m said...

I seem to recall that during the Vietnam War, quite a few American generals refused to read the classic Asian books on military tactics and strategy, or study what was known about Vietnamese strategists. Knowing the enemy was apparently beneath our generals, as they were too busy making up body counts.

It seems that newspaper managements suffer the same class of biases. They refuse to look at their own weaknesses, and the manifold reasons why the net provides a better news product. The media whines instead of trying to adapt to the changes occurring in communications. I have sad news for the traditional media -- even more radical technological changes are coming.

July 10, 2009 5:36 PM  
Anonymous Mairead said...

It's not just the army or newspapers. I worked as a bottom-rung middle manager for a Huge Corporation, originally a big innovator whose products were bywords worldwide. But their top management during my time was concerned exclusively with turf, ignoring what was happening in the world around them.

They were the buggy-whip manufacturers who couldn't see, or didn't care, that these new-fangled horseless carriages weren't just a fad.

Attempting to fend off the results of their mismanagement, they got rid of me among tens of thousands of others, but the corporation went under anyway. Those senior managers? They took their golden parachutes and went on to ruin other companies.

If I'd never had any suspicions about Capitalism and Capitalists til then, that still would have told me all I needed to know.

It's not really completely unlike the experience that the singing Copper family in Rottingdean, Sussex had. Originally employed, like their fathers before them, by the local squire, who himself was the descendant and beneficiary of 300 years of prudent Quaker ancestors, they lived to see his thousands of acres of farmland sold off to developers and themselves put out of work because their man was an uncaring profligate.

July 11, 2009 9:46 AM  
Anonymous read narconews said...

The problems facing print newspapers and tv journalism are indicative of the core difficulties of any capitalist corporate enterprise, notably how do you appease your advertisors/investors without ruining your product. The trouble with newspapers is that every fucking word in them is bought-and-paid for crap, hence not news which is truth. I laugh disgustedly at the manufactured goods that are made so cheaply, in the interest of maximizing profit that the product cannot perform the function for which it was purportedly designed. It's what happens when money becomes the sole motivation-nothing works.
There is an alternative. The best example I've seen is Al Giordano at narconews.com. Sam turned me on to that site eight or ten years ago. Giordano advocates what he calls authentic journalism which means you and your paople get out in the street and report the truth, refusing to be intimidated or bought off. If you want to know what's really going on in Honduras or Venezuala or Mexico he's your guy. You probably won't be amazed to find out that the US is the root of the coup, but I bet you didn't know Pinochet's daughter is a big supporter of the coup or that the mainstream Honduran newsrag airbrushed the blood from the picture of the kid the Honduran army shot. Mainstream american news will go down with the empire because that's how stupid and chickenshit they are.

July 11, 2009 4:27 PM  

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