What If We Didn’t Have News Online?

IT’S a curious thought, isn’t it? How would we fare without being able to access our news via the web? 

What affect would it have on our daily routines?

Ask the question about how often the average media type accesses news online, and most of us would probably guess a few minutes here and there.

But check your history from yesterday or the day before, and you might be surprised.


While we may still pick up the morning paper, it has almost become habitual for us to turn to our news sites of choice be it the BBCThe GuardianThe Scotsman or wherever.

The need to be kept in the loop if you don’t have access to newswires is like an addiction for some, media type or reader at large.

Even those who do have access to rolling content will head to news sites of particular interest. 

In a 14-hour news shift on Saturday I discovered I’d looked at 107 different websites, news and search, all of it work related. 

This blog alone which simply havers on about the media attracts well over 300 unique users a day, the majority clearly identifiable from their IP addresses as working for newspapers and broadcasters.

Over at Mike Wilson’s allmediascotland.com, they enjoy many times that and have some 1800 people signed up to their daily e-bulletin.

But what if we in the media trade couldn’t do that?

The traditional journo boozers are all but gone leaving few places left to catch up for the latest gossip, trade stories about the latest management balls-up, talk jobs or in my case right now, discuss the best place to find one.

So online is one of the last preserves we have.

Newspapers continue to lose circulation and you have to think online plays a part in that, so perhaps having no web content is best?

Yet the number of online users compared to the drop in sales doesn’t tally, otherwise we may already have seen an increase in paid content.

No, it seems that it is TV that killed the printed media star, not the web.

Now, of course, we can access TV online too.

What the web has done is provide us all with the chance to not only become publishers in our own right, but maximise the audience for our work.

When the UK ‘Godfather of Blog’ Neil McIntosh first convinced me to start blogging back in October 2004, there still wasn’t a huge take up of people doing so.

Fast forward five years and there are more friends and colleagues doing so than ever.

Then came Facebook where even non-bloggers are logging on to catch up with news from their friends, or share their own.

Now each day I find more and more friends, colleagues and people I don’t know signing up to my Twitter alerts, prompting me to follow some of them too.

All of it online.

So I ask again, how would our world change if we couldn’t access this information?

The reason is US freelance writer TJ Sullivan who has started an online petition urging a web blackout of news content from US papers and The AP.

For a week. Starting July 4.

His idea is to impress upon the public at large that buying their daily newspaper is important by starving them of virtual news, and highlight the knock on effect it would have on the aggregate news sites that survive on them.

It’s a fairly ambitious idea, one that would take a lot of people an awful lot of convincing to adopt. 

Yet it is certainly t
hought provoking, especially if you ask what would happen if the same happened here.

Below, TJ Sullivan explains his motivations behind it all. 



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