What Do We Call This New News Thing?
I’ve been writing Reinventing the Newsroom for about six weeks now, and I keep running into a vocabulary problem: What should I call an organization that reports on news, creates stories and puts those stories out via a variety of media channels?
Newspaper? The obvious answer, and there’s a long tradition of print terms being reused for the Web — for example, I came up as a rim editor and became a slot editor even though we never sat in such a configuration or passed physical copy back and forth. But I’m not happy with that answer — reflexive thinking about the “paper” part is a big reason so many of these organizations are scrambling to catch up with the digital world.
Web newspaper? Seems like it ignores the paper part, which is kicking the pendulum too far the other way.
Web-first newspaper? Too insidery, and a bear to type.
E-paper? Means something else. Horrid term anyway.
News organization? Bloodless and drab. Sounds like a wire service, or a TV station with pretensions.
Newsroom? Refers to the actual shop where the work gets done, not to the product put into the hands and ears and in front of the eyeballs of readers.
A Friday Read: I think Joe Posnanski is the best sportswriter in the business, and he deserves that praise for both his newspaper work and his blogging efforts. He’s got a new thing going — The Future of Newspapers, in which he’s a ringmaster for thoughts on a subject obviously dear to my heart.
Last week Joe put the spotlight on Dave Krieger, another fine sportswriter who moved to the Denver Post after the demise of the Rocky Mountain News. Krieger reviews the Rocky’s last days before moving on to the Sturm and Drang about Google and the Associated Press. About which he has a question:
Why should any newspaper in the internet age be a member of an organization that takes that paper’s original material, rewrites it and distributes it around the world without attribution or compensation? In fact, an organization that charges the newspaper for the privilege? Inasmuch as the AP is a creation of the newspaper industry, is it not accurate to say we are complicit in the theft of our own material? Aren’t newspapers the agents of their own destruction every day?
Good question. The arm of the AP that produces original content is one thing, but what’s the use of the aggregator arm in this day and age? Papers — ugh, there’s that vocabulary problem again — are slowly but surely coming to the realization that they can and should link to other papers and sites for news that isn’t part of their core mission. Why do they need a middleman to do that for them, let alone an expensive one?