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Newspapers' Challenge

Knowledge@Wharton: Are Newspapers Yesterday’s News? To remain competitive in the coming years, these scholars say, daily newspapers will have to strengthen their efforts to attract younger readers, make more imaginative use of the Internet, and develop stories, mostly local in nature, that better meet the needs of readers who have thousands of news and information sources at their fingertips.

There’s something facile about this analysis, though it makes many worthwhile points, because even the most dense people in the news business recognize the reality of the situation.

But the chief problem with this analysis is its apparent view that newspapers are telling stories to audiences, in whatever medium. There’s far too little recognition that the audience is part of the journalism process, or should be, in a world where newspapers’ most valuable roles may be as conveners of community conversations.

This is a huge leap for the industry. It’s fundamentally not in the DNA. It will be, or the papers won’t survive.

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