Newspaper Industry Facing Huge Challenges interview

Recently, I was interviewed by John Gardner of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

here's the article in its entirety:

Key quotes and commentary:

“The industry is certainly diversifying and, to a certain degree, is seeing a more democratic playing field in terms of competition,” said Richard Stevens, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“We are in a new era in terms of communication and unfortunately the news industry, particularly print, have been very slow to change the way they do business,” he said.

Dead on, illustrating why I'm growing increasingly concerned with newspapers in the online realm.

Another quote:

“I think the biggest problem is an unwillingness to change early as it occurred for many of these organizations,” Stevens said. “The industry could have easily invented eBay or Craigslist, or some of these models that are redistributing income away from (traditional media), but we were just slow out of the gate. We were at a dominant position and did not change when the world called for it.”

Again, good reportage, though I always struggle with whether one should capitalize "Craigslist." The organization never capitalizes its name, yet it is a proper noun. Which is also whi I avoid starting a sentence with "eBay."

The third passage:

Developing revenue from online advertising has proven a great challenge. But all is not lost, according to Stevens.

“The biggest paradigm shift for all analog media is the understanding that if in the 20th Century we built media on competition, that in the 21st Century it should be built on collaboration,” Stevens said. “I think online media gets that. They share information right and left, they connect to each other in new ways.”

The one thing that is a certainty, at least in Stevens’ mind, is that newspapers have to change but he’s confident they will.

“We haven’t experienced a communication revolution like this probably since the printing press was invented. But I don’t think that means automatically that the print industry is doomed. I just think it means that they are going to have to rethink the way they do business and find a new philosophy and a new place in the American media diet,” Stevens said. “We have to change or die. It’s evolution. It’s that simple.”

Hmmn. I'm not sure how to take the "at least in his mind" line. Is it only in my mind that newspapers have to change? Can we at least agree on that fact? I've been arguing about this issue since I began grad school in 1997. Surely we've come far enough and seen enough to be able to say without qualification that print news will be in trouble (sooner or later) if they don't change how they operate?


If this is only in my mind, then I think a lot of people are going to eventually learn what's been in my mind, and I fear it will be a surprise to them (but not to me).