The Rocky Mountain News has been doing some interesting experiments with their use of the web (including YourHub), and Temple writes about it fairly frequently and transparently. I think they are really trying to get their collective heads around how best to use the Internet - and of course how to stay solvent - so I'm not trying to be critical of their overall efforts. But this paragraph in his column made me stop and think.
. . . reporting a story online while it breaks doesn't weaken coverage in the newspaper. If anything, it actually strengthens it. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, by writing about events as they happen and as new details emerge, we learn how to shape more thoughtful packages for print. The Web is a great medium for breaking news. That's where you should turn to us to find out the latest. The paper by definition can't be real-time. It's at best a few hours old. But the paper is a great medium for analysis, perspective, depth and memorable storytelling, both visual and in words.I pretty much agree with all of this. But that last sentence really makes me wonder,
But the paper is a great medium for analysis, perspective, depth and memorable storytelling, both visual and in words.While that certainly is often true, I don't see where the "paper" part is critical to that sentence. Because can't they offer "analysis, perspective, depth and memorable storytelling" online, and actually offer more of it? With links to even more information? And then when you throw in "visual," doesn't the web offer much more opportunity, "space", and medium choices to the mix? To a larger audience? With more timely, convenient, economical, and environmentally-friendly delivery? And when you throw in blogs or other Web 2.0 tools, doesn't it offer the possibility of much more interaction than the print version? Then toss in search and pretty much unlimited archive capability, and doesn't that sentence strike you as perhaps missing the mark just a bit?
I know that many folks still prefer to read a newspaper in print rather than online. In fact, when I read a newspaper (which I do less and less of, at least in the traditional print sense), so do I. And the portability and readability of paper still triumphs technology for most people. But I think the technology will advance sufficiently in the next 7 to 10 years that that may no longer be the case. So I found it interesting that in an article about the changes they were making, and specifically about how they were trying to better integrate the web into their work, that the "justification" if you will of the value of the print edition wasn't really much of a justification (at least to me). In fact, it could've just as easily been a "justification" for an announcement that they were ceasing publication of the print edition altogether and moving to just an online version.
So, ignore the "I prefer to read it in print rather than online" issue for the moment (since I'm focusing more on what he decided to include in his column, and he didn't include that). Please read the entire column first to get the big picture of what he's saying, then what are your thoughts - does this strike you the same way as it did me?