Saturday 10 January 2009

'Papers should close own websites for a day to show they produce most news on net'

"All newspapers in the world need to shut down their websites, if just for a day, to demonstrate that it is the fourth estate that actually provides 90% of the news on the Internet," that's the provocative claim by Cale Cowan, in an article published in the Nanaimo Daily News in Canada today.
Cale also says: "With Internet vultures like Google and the Huffington Post giving it away for free, there isn't going to be much left in the bank to pay for professional journalism.....Yes, in perhaps the greatest catch-22 of all time, we have helped create the problem that is now threatening us. And it is our problem to figure out. But we also need to start reminding people that what we do, although free on the Internet, comes at great expense and holds great value."
Picked this up via Sam Shepherd on Twitter!


Anonymous said...

the biggest mistake that papers made John was to start putting their content on the web for free.

It created the precedent that quality journalism was free

Unfortunately it is too late to turn the clock back

Anonymous said...


That's a very common argument, but I don't think it adds up. Short of some sort of (illegal) collusion among all of the newspaper groups both in the UK and elsewhere not to pursue an advertising-only model for online general-interest news (not to mention the agreement of the BBC not to put "free" news on the web), this was never going to happen.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it exactly the attitude of 'news ownership' that has created the larger problems for newspapers.

News by its nature doesn't happen in isolation, to be newsworthy denotes that it must be of interest. These events can now be captured and published by anyone.

Journalism finds these incidents and presents them (unless you are manipulating the story) in the same way.

This expansion in the presentation layer is now taking an increasing number of forms and this can only be a good thing.

As an example, coming from the UK I have never heard of the Nanaimo Daily News and would never likely have come across this story. In fact, I do not know the majority of newspapers in this country though I read a lot of news and work for a newspaper group.

Today however I did visit that sight to read the full article, and to see if was linked to any other articles relating to this topic, which it wasn't. One thing that struck me was that at the time of writing this comment, you have two comments on this subject whilst the source article has none.

This seems to suggest that your site has a more focused audience on this subject than that of the Nanaimo Daily News .

So in a way you have added value to this article (I hate the term 'conversation') but with no benefit to the original author or paper. This isn't a criticism of you, more the static nature that newspaper content is currently presented as on the web.

Two way feedback is needed to ensure that the source and the feeders can expand this story.

The real sticking point is monetising this story in a way that pays for the source reporter, the offices they use, the laptops, mobile phones and digital camers they know doubt have ben provided with and car and expenses.

Online advertising hasn't reached the same levels of capitilsation as hard copy advertising and probably won't, which means that you have to start looking at the entire structure of the current newspaper industry from the top down.

Newspapers can and must capitalise on the level of esteem and trust that they held with by the public and use this to go out into the wider net and engage with the blogging sites.

Take advantage of the bloggers to widen your news output and form background to stories you may be working on.

Furthermore accept the fundemental tenet that the story is finished once the press deadline has been reached is now well and truely dead.

That I fear is going to be an inevitablity over the next 5-10 years and one that is going to cause some serious soul searching throughout the profession, more so than being picked up by bloggers and the like.

Jon Slattery said...

Nigel, 'Anoymous' and Nik, many thanks for your comments.

I agree with Nigel that "it is too late to put the clock back" and it was a good point by 'Anonymous' to mention the BBC, which has always allowed free access to its news and sport websites.

I particularly liked Nik's comments about looking to the future and using bloggers to expand on stories.

There is a lot of bitterness in newspapers at the moment (not surprising given the job cuts) and a feeling that newspaper content is being ripped off on the internet by sites that don't fund reporters and are not involved in proper news gathering.

To me the major question is - will websites be able to get anywhere close to the standard of news reporting achieved by newspapers?

Anonymous said...

Blah Blah Blah . Now Mr.Cale Cowan can you please look into and report the various scandals at the DNP. Maybe you need to look at the Nanaimo blogs. I am going to the thread you describe and tell them what a lousy job your doing reporting local news.

Reactionary Redneck said...

Mr Cale Cowen has no clue what he is doing or how to be a managing editor. With the exception of D Spalding at the NDN the reporting is half hazard at best. As far as "giving" away the news on the Internet 2 of the 3 newspapers in Nanaimo are delivered FREE to peoples doors.I though that's what advertising was for? both in print and on the Internet!