Ramblings about what I encounter within the realm of the geosciences, as well as the occasional rant about nonsense.

27 April 2009

Death of Print... Dead?

I just stumbled upon an interesting article in my Blog roll, click here for the link (original article here). The primary thrust of the article is the biased source of information pertaining to the 'printed journalism is dead' theme that recurs fairly frequently in the blogosphere. Most individuals who report the end of newspapers are looking at few studies of newspapers, with actual data, and rely on their own anecdotal evidence. such as:
"This is total bs. The only printed publications I read (outside of books) is when I travel on planes. Crap, my 80 year old dad only reads on-line newspapers. This story is a total industry plant. If this was the case why has the size of my local paper shrunk down to "high school" paper size in the last couple years?"
This individual is essentially attacking the problem by using anecdotal evidence, without realizing that he may not be a representative sample of the overall population. The article (linked above) even points out that individuals with this personality are NOT the norm, and dubs them 'information junkies'. Instead the author takes a more detached approach to the problem and discovers that the phenomena that we are observing in the media today is much more nuanced than the 'information junkies' are willing to sit through.

In a more relevant aspect, to this blog at least, science-bloggers have commented that they have no wish to replace science journalism (even if it bungles the story more often than it should). Instead many bloggers tend to view what they do as ancillary to science journalism. In other words, we rely on science journalism to report the stories, then we report, with commentary, on the reported stories (wow, THAT is a confusing sentence that I would hate to diagram).

But in a positive light, this story posits that there may be considerable good coming out of this 'death of print' phenomenon that we are observing. It's argued that the primary result of this process will be to free print journalism from deadlines, because it will be impossible for them to be faster than the internet and cable news outlets. Essentially, step back and let everyone else talk about the new and hip story (and waste hours of coverage on 'nothing news' where all you see is shots of some building and wild speculation about the media not having anything to report). Meanwhile, conventional print journalism, can track leads and bring together a more nuanced product that is of higher quality.

Imagine the benefit this will bring to science journalism. Instead of scientists having to correct journalists for shoddy work thrown together without any subtlety, you get the potential for scientists to educate the public on a larger, more detailed, scale. I imagine if newspapers stopped trying to rush to print, and let stories mature properly, the quality of the reporting will go up and the readership will maintain itself at some new level of equilibrium. I'm not arguing it won't be chaotic, and potentially scary for people financially involved, but this is the first argument I've seen that has something positive to say about the situation without resorting to the canard "let's charge people $0.99 every time they click on a link". Which, judging by the quality of most journalism as it is done in this current 'rush to publish' setting, is going to keep me away from 'pay for news' sites.

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All the Latin on this page is from my vague recollections from High School. There are mistakes in the text. I just was trying to get the point across

Between Los Alamos,NM and White Rock, NM

Between Los Alamos,NM and White Rock, NM
The photo of the travertine spring was taken in the small opening in the center of the image.

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