My old chum Scott Douglas poses an interesting question when he asks if online news content will kill off newspapers as we know them.
He holds his hands up and admits:
“I gloomily suggested the demise of newspapers would only be hastened by the inevitable in-fighting as reporters are asked to take on duties traditionally performed by photographers – and vice-versa”.
It’s a question that’s been asked before among others. Will quality suffer? Will staff revolt? Will companies do the unexpected and throw money into recruiting and retraining where it matters?
His fear is that the reader will be cheated by staff doing other people’s jobs, something akin to the trade shooting itself in the foot.
And as the owner of a successful news agency, he may wonder also what ramifications for the copy and pictures his staff provide and what safeguards are in place to ensure they too get a fair deal.
They are questions that, for the sake of journalism itself, have to be asked.
But I’ve argued before and will do again that implemented the right way – as say at The Guardian – such change can be embraced and used in a positive way to enhance traditional mediums and encourage a new breed of reporting.
Papers have evolved before – from mono to colour, broadsheet to tabloid, subbed on stone to desk top publishing. The trick will be not letting people – newspaper owners – do it on the cheap.
Because that as we’ve seen before is a false economy.
Changes cannot be ignored nor denied.
The fact that Scott, a journalist of great pedigree in his own right, now has his own Blog to make such arguments show that no-one can ignore the march of revolution nor the benefits it can and should bring.
It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be cautious, however. It just means we shouldn’t be scared.
And that we should make sure we get the full benefit and grasp what is to come by looking ahead to the new opportunities, rather than lamenting those that have come and gone already.