Newspaper industry is healthy
I was reading Editor & Publisher magazine the other day and recalled various conversations I have had with friends about the newspaper industry in the past few years.
Our industry is truly becoming a communications industry as opposed to the old days when our only stock in trade was newspapers printed on paper.
Today, we are a media industry. We have strong web presences and slowly video is becoming almost as important to our business as typewriters used to be.
This is not really new. Newspapers have owned radio and TV stations for decades. WSBT, South Bend, was owned by the South Bend Tribune. WGN’s call letters were chosen because “the world’s greatest newspaper,” The Chicago Tribune, was the first owner.
Today, the newspaper industry is changing so fast I would be hard pressed to find a TV show or motion picture that accurately portrays today’s newspaper.
I grinned recently while looking at a video of Superman (George Reeves) flying into a Daily Planet store room where he found a typewriter and stack of paper conveniently setting near the open window.
Before he changed into his Clark Kent suit, Superman sat down and typed out a news story at super speed.
I often wondered what kept the typewriter from flying to pieces or catching fire when he typed that fast. Today, Superman would be hard pressed to find more than one or two typewriters in a newspaper office, certainly not in the newsroom.
Here is a sample of one of the articles from E&P magazine you might find interesting: “Video Editing on the Go.”
The article says, “360-degree recording and 360 live-streaming will inevitably become the next major trend for digital media.” What does that mean?
It is video shot on a round camera with lenses on all sides. Wow.
I am a newcomer, compared to many folks, but I remember when I got my first full-time job on a daily paper in 1994 that cellphones were first being used in that newsroom. Not for video, either, just to communicate with other reporters and the editor.
Now, we shoot HD quality video on our cell phones for thebraziltimes.com. In fact, my current phone takes videos of sufficient quality I can pull a single frame off the video and run it as a fairly large photo in the newspaper.
Last week I was asking one of our reporters to think of what our staff does like playing the three-dimensional chess game one sees on TV in “Star Trek.”
The challenge is not to think on one level but to think about the different platforms at our disposal. We have the newspaper (paper newspaper), the website (thebraziltimes.com) and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
That is a big challenge when preparing news stories, photos and video because some people like to hold the paper newspaper in their hands, to clip pictures and stories and save them. But, the website offers the luxury of unlimited space for photos or videos to go with a given story and the story itself can be as long as the content allows. Social media is much more limited in story length and the number of photos or videos for each post. However, The Brazil Times often refers people from one form of media to another. When we print a story in the paper newspaper, we tell people how to see more photos on our website. We just began putting links to obituaries from Facebook to our website
Deadlines are much more varied than they used to be. When we produced one newspaper, six days a week, we had six deadlines for reporters, one deadline each day.
Now, we have to retrain our thinking so we post breaking news on social media from our cell phones immediately. We produce stories for the web any time of the day or night, seated in the newsroom, in our homes, and just last week I edited stories that reporters emailed to me during a City Council meeting while at City Hall, right after the meeting ended.
There is no waiting on social media or the Web. It’s ready to take our stories and photos 24/7.
The funny thing is, the audience for each form of media appears to be different. Some people read our website and social media posts who never pick up the paper paper. Other people abhor computers but love the printed page. And there are people who love more than one form of media. So, print is not going away but neither are other forms of media.
No, we don’t have one of those round 360-degree cameras that produce video from all directions at once. But wouldn’t it be cool to use one for a high school football or basketball game or the Christmas parade in downtown Brazil?
It’s very possible The Brazil Times will eventually buy one. After all, who would have thought we would carry cell phones around with us?