All-digital newsrooms may be in our future

4 Apr

If the Alligator blog site ever broke off from the Independent Florida Alligator and became more successful than said paper, I would be dumbfounded.

What happened at Penn State University is a gigantic leap forward in college journalism. Of course, many local and national newspapers may have more online readers than actual paper subscribers, but tons of printed college newspapers still have a large readership. However, I do think it’s good that The Collegian is still on Penn State’s campus because, as editor-in-chief Rossilynne Skena said, the newspaper provides detailed accounts of events on campus from different perspectives.

That being said, it is no surprise that many journalists are proponents of newsrooms becoming completely digital. In response to the widely circulated essay “Confidence Game” by Dean Starkman, NYU professor Clay Shirky argues newspaper institutions will fall behind if they do not adapt this practice. In a way, he’s correct. I’m pretty sure that in 20 years most newspapers will no longer be in print. Our generation has been raised with online news readily available to consumers. We are going into adulthood with Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets under our belts. This really is the only logical direction newspapers could go in. Steve Yelvington couldn’t have described the future newsroom better: “The monopoly era of factory-produced, one-way, institutional journalism has ended.”

The “factory-only” system worked really well for everyone from the early 1900s until about the mid ’90s. However, even though printed news has its benefits, you can’t fight change. Starkman’s idea of reinventing the newsroom rather than creating new entities isn’t totally without reason, though. A fair amount of people do still read newspapers, and news websites have proven to be effective. His essay has still received plenty of criticism from people other than Shirky, including Steve Buttry, who calls journalistic nostalgia “seductive and dangerous.” Needless to say, an absolute decision about what to do with newspaper institutions is not going to be made anytime soon.

I admit, I would be sad to see the day printed newspapers disappear forever. There is still something wonderful about holding a paper in your hands while reading about the latest happenings. For now, though, I can deal with some new, innovative techniques that are bound to raise their heads in newsrooms all over the world.

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