Programmer-Journalist take on new media claims about delivering “the final blow to the newspaper industry”

Programmer-Journalist: I sometimes describe myself as a programmer-journalist. All our iPhone and iPad apps disseminate news (for example, our second #1 app uses Federal Government data to provide a snapshot of the US economy) . Our apps deliver the news on a daily basis, but we are clearly not a traditional news organization. That said, I do find it difficult to identify with the philosophy of a lot of “new media” folks.

New Media rhetoric: The newspaper industry is clearly in trouble, but a lot of the new media rhetoric about newspapers is off-base. Last year, I had addressed another new-media criticism here

Today, I read a story about the “Newspaper of the future“. The story was about an iPad app that aggregates news from a large number of sources and provides a personalized reading experience to users. I haven’t tested the app on my iPad, but all indications are that it is a very good and well-developed app.

The story goes on to say that this app will “deliver the final blow to the newspaper industry” . In promoting their own beliefs by attacking the traditional news industry, they are following the familiar zero-sum game that many new-media folks like to engage in.

Real Reporting: Someone does need to actually investigate and report the news and for the most part, it is traditional news organizations that do most of the heavy lifting in this regard. They are the ones out there investigating corruption in Washington DC, atrocities in Congo, the war in Afghanisthan and local city council meetings.

New media folks often talk about Twitter, Blogs and Citizen-journalism. All of them are undoubtedly valuable, but haven’t provided much evidence of being a viable replacement for the old-fashioned reporter.  

Top news aggregator apps on the iPhone and the iPad get their news from the traditional news industry. So regardless of their rhetoric, it seems clear that they do highly value the traditional news industry.

If they ever do “deliver the final blow to the newspaper industry” , their apps would quickly go out of business, unless they (or someone else) stepped in to do the job that traditional reporters do today. I hope new-media folks get a better understanding of journalism, how it has served people for centuries and how it can best serve the public in the future, instead of mindless rhetoric about how news aggregators will  “deliver the final blow to the newspaper industry”.

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