Are News Outlets Still Relevant

In today’s world of consistently updated news websites, RSS feeds, and push mail phones like Blackberrys, it is tough to imagine that normal news outlets like newspapers and television news stations not becoming more obsolete everyday. Today it is all about the RSS reader, the gadget or widget, and news website. So what does this mean for the common news outlet?

For starters, it means a drastic change in targeting their market. No longer are people reading a physical newspaper. Well, that is not entirely true but the number of people reading a physical newspaper are down significantly. Instead, people are choosing to use their My Yahoo! pages or their Netvibes pages to keep up with the latest news. If they do not use a web browser, they almost certainly use some form of widget application to have news delivered directly to their desktop. What this means is that people are only seeing the title or the title and the first couple of sentences of an article and thus are only following thru by clicking the articles that interest them. What this means to the news provider is that they need stories going out on the RSS feed that a reader are more than likely going to click.

Since people are more inclined to get their news online, the newspapers and news stations have to compete with millions of other websites out there that are covering the same topic and probably doing a much better job at it because of the ability of the writers on those other websites to speak in terms and jargon that the target audience understands. Major news outlets have to reach the broadest audience possible in order to bring in the widest range of readers, which means they can not cover certain stories in a more in-depth manner. While some news outlets are realizing that utilizing blogs for their staff writers and allowing them to use those blogs to cover topics more in-depth, several still do not make use of this technology to make their reader’s experience better. Some current print publications only use the "blogs" as a secondary location to post articles by that particular writer and while this is great in the fact that it lets people subscribe to an RSS feed to get that writers stories, it does not allow a reader to see more by that same writer on a regular (read daily/semi-daily) basis. What is the use of subscribing to a writers RSS feed if all that is going to be published there are the same stories I read in the print version that comes to my house?

Several print publications and news stations are working extremely hard to make their websites more Web 2.0-ish. They are adding social features and expanding their RSS feed selection on a fairly quick release schedule. However, several others are doing no such thing and see the internet site as nothing more than an extension of their other production. I think that the companies following this line of thinking will realize, only too late, that they chose to continue marketing the wrong audience. There is and will continue to be a market for print and viewing public, but I believe that overall, we will see the market shift towards web readers, and any company that decides to not focus on those readers is going to end up with less subscribers and less income as a result.

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