Barney's Rubble

Print Is Dead -- Not!

The ink hasn't dried on good, old-fashioned journalism.

I was reading the other day -- not sure if it was a blog, Web site or RSS feed -- that print is dead. As I understand it, the Web is so ubiquitous, so dynamic and -- gosh darn it -- so dang cool that there's no need for newspapers or magazines.

In fact, if you want news, just cruise over to Google or The Drudge Report and get your fill.

Let's look carefully at where these sites get their news. As far as I can tell, Matt Drudge spends his days searching the Web sites of print publications, finding interesting stories and then linking.

I'm glad that Drudge and his ugly 1950s hat are now international superstars, but the credit should go to The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Philadelphia Daily News and, for his March 7 edition, Memphis Commercial Appeal and Fog City Journal!

Google and Yahoo! have the same basic approach, just way more automated. They really have no journalists of which to speak (which might explain their shortage of Pulitzer Prizes!). Instead, they hire aggregators -- super-surfers, if you will -- who pull content from thousands of sites and publications.

The worst part is that news organizations are so desperate for clicks, they rejoice when Google picks up their stories! Google is trying to kill print by using content that comes from print! So what happens if it works? Will Google and Yahoo! and Drudge have blank news pages? Will they have to hire all the reporters that got fired when their papers folded?

This is America, and I'm not going to knock someone for coming up with a better idea. But what galls me is the arrogance of so many of these Web sites that act superior to those from which they're stealing.

The worst culprits are the bloggers who tap out a few hundred unedited, unchecked and unreadable words and believe they're Bob Woodward. And because bloggers get a real honest to goodness scoop once or twice a year, media watchers declare them the new force in journalism.

I've got news for you folks: Moby blogging about bin Laden and Barbara Streisand pontificating on "the psycho-social reasons relating to Bush's decision to invade Iraq" aren't news. They're the opinions of amateurs. Bloggers are like those annoying students in college that wouldn't shut up in class, even though they had nothing much to say.

I think the computer industry can and should save print, and here's how. We get HP, Lexmark and all the other printer companies to make inexpensive printers that can take a digital publication, print it in all its four-color glory, staple it and let you take it to where the real learning takes place -- the bathroom.

Tell me where I'm wrong at dbarney@redmondmag.com!

Meanwhile, the Redmond Media Group is doing our part: We launched three magazines in just two years, and last year bought Visual Studio Magazine -- a print publication!

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Apr 12, 2007 Dave California

I read your column in the print version today and came here to email a link to the column to my friends and family. Print is not dead, the graphics are great, it is portable and disposable. Keep up the good work!

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