Friday, January 11, 2008

Getting the news online

Michael Stephens recently published an "Open Letter to The South Bend Tribune," which is a response to the letter that newspaper sent him when he canceled his print subscription. He provides the paper with some very constructive suggestions. While I am nowhere near as 2.0 or connected as Professor Stephens is, some of the reasons why he canceled are reasons why I don't subscribe to a print newspaper. In my case, I get most of my news online. I supplement by watching a local broadcast in the morning (the fishing report on Friday mornings is a hoot) before I go to work during the week, and then I watch some CNN and MSNBC (Olbermann's Countdown), that is about it. Even when I do watch the news on cable, I often only "half watch" them, since I often have the computer on where I am reading feeds while listening to the news in the background. In many cases, I have found that by the time CNN covers something on TV, I already saw it online someplace (and that someplace is often not You can't compete with the Internet when it comes to getting the most current stuff. Seeing CNN's "Internet Reporter" (or whatever they call it) usually is amusing, since by the time the young lady points out to something, I already pretty much saw it and moved on.

I have experimented here and there with getting the online news. I have a Bloglines account, mostly for blogs. I still use the MyYahoo! portal I've had for a while, and that is where I read the newspapers I do read. These are selection of Texas papers, including the Tyler Morning Telegraph, and national and international ones. My wife likes to read it in print, kind of a ritual thing, but I am gradually converting her to reading it online. In our case, it is not just that the online version is free (well, not really free since we do have to pay for the Internet access to the ISP pirates), but because the delivery of the local paper was dismal. She may be patient, but when you miss morning delivery days on a row, you won't feel very forgiving. This is especially applicable if you work a night shift most of the week, which she does, Sunday is the day you sleep in a bit, and your newspaper is not there. Even I ran for cover when she realized her paper was not there yet again, and she made her way to the phone to give them a piece of her mind. She is not a big internet user, mostly due to time, but I think she is warming up to the looking at the paper online idea.

By the way, the online papers I read I often do base it on whether they make me register or not. There are a few more I would not mind adding, but I am not about to register, and I am not trolling over to BugMeNot everytime I need a password. Hey, get a clue newspapers. Registration is pretty much a nuisance. Get rid of it. In the meantime, I will be happy to read my news elsewhere.

Your adding blogs and rss is great. Definitely keep that up. In some cases, you may want to be a bit more selective in who you add to your blogs. I think this is more applicable to local papers which may have a lower pool of local talent to choose from. Just because they can type does not follow they can write a good blog. Overall, it is clear that print is pretty much headed into the history bin when it comes to newspapers. In my case, I will add that poor service will mean the print will die faster. However, newspapers online can be excellent. I think in local cases, a good blend of reporters and local bloggers can get good local coverage, which is what a local paper should be doing anyways. The national stuff I can get from CNN, or heck, I can even add feeds from Reuters and AP if I want. I don't need the Tyler paper to tell me about the presidential primaries. I need it to tell me what is going on in the town (I am a local librarian; I need to know that stuff). So I expect to get that from my local paper. You get the idea. Anyways, my two cents.

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