I'm no fan of Rupert Murdoch, a press (robber) baron whose greed and overtly one-sided journalism have been a malevolent force in the media sphere. But in a speech he gave this week to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, he said a bunch of things that needed saying -- and for that, he's done a real public service.
The speech is online at the News Corp. website, and it's essential reading for anyone in the news business.
Interestingly, News Corp. has been anything but a leader on the Internet. The company made some stabs at it in the 1990s, but retreated in a fairly ignominious way after apparently concluding that there wasn't a good enough business model compared with traditional media.
In his talk to the editors, however, Murdoch showed that he and the people who are briefing him on this stuff are attuned to the emerging world, and in a profound way. Here's a sample:
But our internet site will have to do still more to be competitive. For some, it may have to become the place for conversation. The digital native doesn’t send a letter to the editor anymore. She goes online, and starts a blog. We need to be the destination for those bloggers. We need to encourage readers to think of the web as the place to go to engage our reporters and editors in more extended discussions about the way a particular story was reported or researched or presented.Read the whole thing.
At the same time, we may want to experiment with the concept of using bloggers to supplement our daily coverage of news on the net. There are of course inherent risks in this strategy -- chief among them maintaining our standards for accuracy and reliability. Plainly, we can’t vouch for the quality of people who aren’t regularly employed by us – and bloggers could only add to the work done by our reporters, not replace them. But they may still serve a valuable purpose; broadening our coverage of the news; giving us new and fresh perspectives to issues; deepening our relationship to the communities we serve. So long as our readers understand the distinction between bloggers and our journalists.
To carry this one step further, some digital natives do even more than blog with text – they are blogging with audio, specifically through the rise of podcasting – and to remain fully competitive, some may want to consider providing a place for that as well.
And with the growing proliferation of broadband, the emphasis online is shifting from text only to text with video. The future is soon upon us in this regard. Google and Yahoo already are testing video search while other established cable brands, including Fox News, are accompanying their text news stories with video clips.