Ian Betteridge and I share something in common: We’ve been writing for a lot longer than people have been blogging. We come from the older school of journalism that bloggers, social networking and digital media are supposed to replace. The debate about the news media’s future is certainly a hot topic at the company where I work.
Ian’s post, “Print is Dying? Not so Fast,” uses The Economist as example of why print doesn’t have to die off. He observes that the magazine’s profits and ad sales are rising, with American print advertising up 23 percent.
Ian acknowledges that The Economist Website drives “some of those healthy profits.” But “here, it bucks the trend: rather than make everything available for free, its archives are only available to subscribers or readers who have to sit through an irritating Flash ad.”
The Economist’s success derives from a simple strategy: “Producing content that’s better quality, better-researched, and better written than anyone else. No blogs, no Twitter, just better (and harder) work.”
OMG! The Economist does, gasp, real journalism. What a shocking strategy at a time when blogs, social networks and the Twittersphere spread innuendo, gossip and urban myths.
It so happens, and perhaps by no coincidence, that The Economist is the only print magazine I currently subscribe to. I do believe that print pubs like The Economist will have to make many changes to embrace the Web. But they must keep their standards, which is a real concern right now as journalism changes, mainly because of blogs and social networks.
Better stated: Trust. People will still need informational outlets that they can trust to give them accurate and unbiased news and analysis. Journalists, don’t give up your standards because of the Web. Good reporting means finding the story, verifying the facts and accurately presenting them.
Just because somebody said it doesn’t make it true, which is why, even though I trust Ian, I took an extra couple minutes to verify The Economist earnings. The Web makes research easier. Linking is lazy. Check the facts.