Is newsprint obsolete?

"Is newsprint obsolete?" asks Tantek Çelik who explains why he has given up on the Wall Street Journal print edition:

For the longest time it provided an excellent, unsensationalized, filtered daily news feed. Even when they provided the option of viewing articles online, I still preferred the print edition.

But this was before blogs. And blog indexers and popularity engines.

It has gotten to the point that by the time I see a story or a news snippet in the WSJ, I have already seen it on a blog somewhere, or linked from one of the blog/popularity indexes: Technorati, Daypop Top 40, Popdex, and heck even the most emailed news on Yahoo!.

Tantek builds on the facts that "electrons move faster than atoms" and that webloggers have reached a critical size where they are able to generate a bottom-up flow of information that challenges the top-down filter of edited newspapers. You can get an uninterrupted, almost instant flow of valuable, in-depth information much sooner than the traditional batch delivery of printed editions.

He notes, however, that very few people have switched to reading weblogs. I note on my side that more and more journalists have started to read weblogs and to report on the same trends, sometimes in an astonishingly similar manner, without much added value if any, and embarrasingly much later. This adds to my own frustration with the technical press, which is now no match compared to my weblogs and online news sources. We had some pretty boring IT newspapers in France, now we have boring and useless IT newspapers. Simon Willison shares a similar frustration.

Media sux tells us Daniel Glazman who -- for reasons that every French person should now be aware of -- has given up on Le Monde. Daniel has not given up newsprint, though, and pays tribute to the profession of journalist:

Blogs are not well enough written or have no journalistic background guaranteeing the quality and fairness of the contents.

Fair enough, the ethical and professional dimensions of journalism deserves recognition. But ethics and style are media agnostic. In a traditional conservative reaction when it has been confronted with the web for the first time, the newsprint industry has fought against it in refusing to recognize online journalists. Now, among millions of webloggers, more and more journalists are starting to use weblogs and raise the bar, positively, on independance and professionalism.

The "new economy" burst has bought some time to the incumbents in many industries, but they are using it now to hibernate. The newsprint industry is one of them, the music majors another. Meanwhile, unaffected by the economical downturn and multiplying like bacteria in the open-source soup, numerous solutions are popping up and growing which will, in no time, create a new form of competition where companies will cease to compete with their peers alone, in quiet oligopolies. Those who think that the new economy innovation frenzy was just a bad dream, and that things are now back to normal, will be suffering a lot tomorrow morning.

Longue vie aux bloggeurs !

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