It’s pretty obvious that “paper” is no longer an integral part of newspaper operations.
But it’s probably good to think about getting rid of the word “news” as well. It’s not that it’s a bad word, or even that news is something newsrooms shouldn’t be doing. But the word sets us off in the wrong direction.
News implies breaking news; it implies what happened yesterday; it implies timeliness. Again, all of those things matter. But we’re moving into a world where our readers are tapping into us when they want to, not when we want to tell them. So – while remaining timely and on top of news – we should be rethinking our product so it serves them better as repositories of persistent, but updated, pools of great journalism.
News also skews the debate about The Future of Journalism in unfortunate ways – people either talk about who broke the story of Michael Jackson’s death or about the great year-long investigative profile of Dick Cheney.
One side argues that Michael Jackson’s death is commodity news, and that no one can really monopolize or monetize it; the other argues that the profile of Dick Cheney is inherently unmatchable but skims over the fact that only a couple such stories are produced each year by any organization. But there is much more to news than breaking news and Pulitzer packages; there’s ongoing coverage, timeless if puffy features, news-you-can-use, and so on.
Calling it all news doesn’t help us grapple with the issues and what readers want.