Despite the fact that I read the 23 feeds into my RSS aggregator, including CNN, on a daily basis, I still enjoy reading the Buffalo News and Dunkirk Observer, our local newspapers. For me, nothing signals the relaxed feel of a Sunday like a fresh pot of coffee and the Buffalo News. Yesterday, I read an editorial by Editor Margaret Sullivan that’s worth talking about on G-Town Talks.
Ms. Sullivan writes about the changes to the Buffalo News website in her article, “Web site will breathe new life into News”. Currently when I go to this website it’s not a source of daily news, nor is it even easy to get to someone who’s writing for the News if I’d like to comment about something that I’ve read. Margaret writes about the proposed changes with excitement and for good reason. The newspaper as we’ve always known it needs to evolve, to reinvent itself, or risk replacement by other means of information, namely the Internet.
Ms. Sullivan talks about the need to “put breaking local news on the site” and to offer “much more interactivity with readers, and a number of staff written blogs”. She acknowledges the need for change further by stating, “with young people far more attuned to the Internet than to print, the viability of newspaper journalism is at risk.”
I’ve been reading my RSS aggregator and blogging since July and I can honestly say that it’s changed the way I read and the way I interact with information. For the first time, when I read the newspaper, it’s active. I want to follow through with the ideas generated by a piece, I want to add what I think to the conversation—but it isn’t a conversation, it’s a newspaper. Therein lies the need for change, we’re changing as readers and as learners, and that dictates a change for newspapers.
Yes, Margaret, you need blogs so that your reporters can enter the conversation. And as you and your reporters already know, the conversation will become much richer and much more valuable because of your connections. The feedback you receive will be immediate and more frequent as it’s much more likely that I’ll click on “comment” than remember an article and then send an email or a letter.
Ms. Sullivan writes,
I am convinced that newspapers provide something critically important that other media often do not: depth, thoughtfulness, investigative skills and an enterprising (rather than reactive) approach to news. It may sound melodramatic but I believe it’s true: If newspapers crumble, so does a cornerstone of American democracy.”
It’s a very good thing that the News is entering the blogosphere and adding Internet delivery. Through G-Town Talks and my Bloglines account, that same depth, thoughtfulness, and research have enriched my own reading and learning. The Buffalo News, with a wealth of experience, intellect, and investigative writing, has a tremendous amount to offer. The only question left is “how do they sustain revenue when so much of our intellectual property can be found for free online?”