There’s a good article up at Business Week on the future of newspapers by Paul Armstrong, who in his column outs himself as author of Twitter account @themediaisdying (a cousin of local @canmedialayoffs). His thesis is that while the economy isn’t helping newspapers, it’s not to blame for their deaths; the old model is simply not relevant to readers in a tech-savvy and over-informed world. The solution? We (and this includes all forms of media, in my opinion) have to become part of readers’ regular lives by giving them what they want, when they want it.
The days of information monopoly are over, and that’s a fundamental shift. And the industry should be further along than it is. Rather than saying, “Here’s everything we think is relevant to you—and we even put it in sections!” how about, “What do you want to know about today?” Or, for even greater efficiency: “Tick these boxes, and we’ll make a newspaper just for you.” Some might call this RSS and iGoogle while others, such as Hearst, think this will mean yet another device to lug about. Whatever your standpoint, the media have fantastic opportunities and challenges in front of it. It’s truly the time of relevance or death.