Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The face of things to come

This is undoubtedly true, but so is this.

Nobody has yet figured out a good way to replicate the depth and breadth of journalism committed by the country's major metro newsrooms in any other way. Virtually everything on TV, the radio or online that doesn't come off the police scanner originated in a newspaper newsroom somewhere. But guess what? The big, old, traditional structures built around those newsrooms aren't necessarily the only way to get the job done.

The next phase of online and mobile news will almost certainly include efforts to go after the serious news market while shedding (or never acquiring) the financial and cultural baggage of the newspaper companies. And in most markets, it will likely come from former newsroom folks who've been laid off, took buyouts or sought out startups. These are people who know what they're doing.

The development will come fastest in cities where the traditional newspapers die, as some will likely do this year. But even in markets with relatively stable news orgs, upstarts will be coming for them. And they'll be coming soon, for better or worse. I tend to think it'll be better -- for news consumers and ultimately for journalists and entrepreneurs -- but there'll be a long, painful period first. In fact, the more I read Romenesko and other news blogs, the more I realize that period is well underway.

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