Friday, 12 September 2008

Even American newspaper editors are struggling to adjust to Web

This new study tells us the status of US newspaper industry vis-à-vis new media. In our little research in Maharashtra, we had come across journalists and editors who dread to think of opening their e-mail in-boxes. Planning for the future exploiting new media technology is a far cry. What is your experience?

LAS VEGAS – US Newspaper editors are struggling to adapt as more and more readers turn away from the printed page and toward the Web, mobile devices and other means to get their news, a leading news industry researcher says.

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, told a crowd of editors Wednesday at the Associated Press Managing Editors conference in Las Vegas that a survey of more than 250 newspapers calls into question whether newsrooms are planning ahead. "Do we have a plan for the future, or are we just sort of reacting as things come at us?" Rosenstiel said.

Rosenstiel said newspapers are being asked to shift from a product - the physical newspaper - to a service encompassing the Web, mobile devices and other forms to deliver information to consumers."It can be subtle, but it's a fundamental change," he said. Results from the survey released in July showed that just 5 per cent of editors were confident in predicting how their operations would work in five years.

The rest of the editors were equally split between being either somewhat confident or having little or no confidence. "Editors seem cautious and only marginally more confident than not," the study said.

"In the face of such uncertainty, several editors cited their staff's willingness to accept change and embrace new technology as the factor contributing most to their competitiveness." The survey was based on interviews with newspaper editors in 15 cities in four regions of the United States and senior news executives at 259 newspapers across the United states.

Editors attending the conference are mulling questions that were largely irrelevant to newspapers two decades ago before the Internet became a fixture. Today, papers are struggling to generate the same revenues from the Internet as they have lost in print ad sales, which has forced job cuts and tough decisions about content.

Tyler Marshall, who wrote the study titled "The Changing Newsroom: What is Being Gained and What is Being Lost in America's Daily Newspapers," said Wednesday that editors generally feel that things are changing so fast, it's hard to keep up while keeping news standards paramount.

Finley, editor of The Virginian-Pilot, said his newsroom has reorganized twice in the past three years, and could be reorganized again next year. He said the biggest change at the newspaper has been adding a team that focuses on breaking news online throughout the day.

"I don't think we've done anything revolutionary, but what we've had to do, and I think what every competitor has had to do, is be a lot more focused and really think a lot more about what we can do with the smaller staff that we have," Finley said.
Read the study:
Associated Press Managing Editors:

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