Yes, I sympathize with overworked, underpaid reporters who wonder how the heck they’re going to get the paper out tomorrow with 10 percent, or more, of their colleagues being shown the door by a panicked management. The last thing they want is another set of responsibilities, especially for articles they’ve already written and published. There’s another paper to get out tomorrow, after all.
That’s why it’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, for the newspaper industry to reform its basic production processes to support online community building, so long as the industry sees itself as the “newspaper” industry.
That’s why it is time for the “newspaper” industry to die.
Words matter. So long as newsrooms see themselves as “newspapers,” the needs of that medium will dictate the organization’s production process. And things like online community management will be left to automated tools, and, maybe, a few supplemental staffers.
I’m not arguing that newsrooms should stop printing papers. They should continue, as they should offer their work in any medium for which there is significant public demand. But the day quickly approaches when successful news businesses will liberate themselves from the term “newspaper company.”