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Opposition to options
In the November/December 2009 issue of Quill, in the article titled “News Hole,”was a summary of what author Daniel Axelrod said were predictions for the future of news. I was struck that two of the options, while credible already, are meeting opposition.
• A mix of online news from foundations, professional and amateur sites and big papers capitalizing on their brands to create and aggregate news.
• Ever closer collaboration between papers, competitors and readers to generate content, avoid redundant stories and pool coverage resources.
These options, while possible, will be more difficult just because of the competitive nature of some news organizations. Witness the Minneapolis Star-Tribune rail against Minnesota Public Radio declaring MPR its chief competitor and unfairly so because it receives taxpayer funds. Our own preliminary agreement with MPR to share news so both can have better regional coverage caused great concern from at least one publisher (who saw this as akin to a pact with the devil) and The Associated Press (who worried the arrangement threatened their services for which we pay a healthy sum).
Without a doubt, we in the news business have to recognize that while a percentage of our problem is cyclical because of the economy, a larger amount is tectonic. And our continued success will rely upon our ability to adapt. While I’m not proposing we should ignore caution with any arrangement, the market is telling us we need to be more open to collaboration and the sharing of resources.
It’s the market, not we, who will decide what’s best.
JIM SANTORI, Publisher
The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.