The Future of News

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For all the debate about the future of news, it seems to me that we are already living the future. Over the past decade, barrels of ink were spilled on how the Internet would change information consumption.  Today, mobile phones are ubiquitous – 20% of homes in the U.S. do not have a landline and the typical user has the mobile phone on 19 hours per day.

The Kindle and iPad have made digital publications tangible and, in many cases, a more enjoyable experience than holding a newspaper.

Five years ago, social media was a fad for college kids. Today, there are more than 290 social networking and media channels.

A study by the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism concludes that decline of newspapers continues at a rapid pace while trust in the Internet begins to erode. Yet, Wikileaks relied on the mainstream media to validate (or rather interpret, source and report) the more than 90,000 military documents about the war in Afghanistan.

I believe that there will always be a place and a critical need, especially in a democracy, for an informed public and professional journalists.  However, I’m not convinced there’s a need for the daily newspaper in printed format.  Local and news weeklies and special interest magazines serve a more specific purpose – news and analysis that you can take with you and read when you want.

Daily news demands immediate consumption.  The Internet, radio and TV provide more effective delivery channels. After reading the Wall Street Journal on the iPad, I canceled my print subscription.  I wish the Washington Post would create a more compelling app so I can cancel that print subscription as well.

In all this hand-wringing about the fate of journalism, what does it mean for the PR professional?

No profession remains constant in its practice. PR and journalism are in the relationship business. Thus the basics of our craft still apply. As technology continues to alter how we engage in building and maintaining those relationships, its important to remember that honesty and integrity matter. The only thing that follows you is your reputation so make sure you are managing it effectively both in your offline and online interactions with reporters.

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