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April 13, 2005

Rupert Murdoch Gives News Editors Dire Warning

I am watching a C-Span speech by Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of the News Corporation, at today's American Society of Newspaper Editors conference. He restated the dire warning about the vanishing newspapers that you have been reading in these pages often.

I am pulling this quote from Jeff Jarvis' Buzzmachine. (Go to Buzzmachine to get an in-depth report on Murdoch's speech--and the full speech.) This from the speech:

Scarcely a day goes by without some claim that new technologies are fast writing newsprint’s obituary. Yet, as an industry, most of us have been remarkably, unaccountably complacent.

And this:

There are a number of reasons for our inertness in the face of this advance. First, for centuries, newspapers as a medium enjoyed a virtual information monopoly – roughly from the birth of the printing press to the rise of radio. We never had a reason to second-guess what we were doing. Second, even after the advent of television, a slow but steady decline in readership was masked by population growth that kept circulations reasonably intact. Third, even after absolute circulations started to decline in the 1990s, profitability did not.
But those days are gone. The trends are against us.
So unless we awaken to these changes, and adapt quickly, we will, as an industry, be relegated to the status of also-rans or, worse, many of us will disappear altogether.

Then I turned to the ASNE convention web page. Here are a couple of headlines on the web page:

Survey Paints Troubling Newsroom Trends
Experts See Citizen Journalism in Newspapers’ Future

Now all this brings us to our conference A Wake Up Call: Can Trust and Quality Save Journalism? This conference is playing right into the dilemma, and we have top people helping answer these questions:

-- Is the mainstream media in a death spiral?
-- Can improving editorial quality and trust save it?
-- If not, where we will be able to turn to find high quality and trustworthy news and information?
-- Is the salvation in citizen, community, and niche journalism?
--What does all this mean to individual journalists, journalism educators and the public?

One thing that was picked up in the question and answers session was Murdoch saying newspapers will not be able to charge for readership on the Internet. They will have to draw in large audiences and make money off adverstisements.

It was one thing having Phil Meyer a professor giving a wake up call, but quite another when Rupert Murdoch says it with even more force.

Editor's Note:strong> This was also blogged at PJNet. The writer for both blogs is the same guy--me. So when I have items that are pertinent to both blogs, I will blog them at both places.

Posted by Leonard Witt at April 13, 2005 11:20 PM