Black and white and dead all over

Michael Kinsley writes a, well, cute column about the Rube Goldberg process that produces newspapers and how it’s likely doomed. Not sure what the news is there. In it, he asks:

No one knows how all this will play out. But it is hard to believe that there will be room in the economy for delivering news by the Rube Goldberg process described above. That doesn’t mean newspapers are toast. After all, they’ve got the brand names. You gotta trust something called the “Post-Intelligencer” more than something called “Yahoo” or “Google,” don’t you? No, seriously, don’t you? Okay, how old did you say you are?

The latest Ad Age, in a special issue with American Demographics, asks Americans just that question (no link, damn them):

What Web site provides the most reliable source of information on the internet?

Top picks were Yahooo (cited by 11.3% of U.S. consumers), MSN (10.4%), Google (9.9%), CNN (8%), AOL (5.2%) and Consumer Reports (3.1%). Google scored first among younger consumers, with 22% of the 18-24 crowd and 15% of the 25-34 group choosing to Google.

In Europe, no single media property emerged as most trustworthy and objective. But Eruope has a clear choice for most-reliable Web information source: Google ranked tops in France, Germany, Netherlands and Spain, and scored No. 2, behind the BBC, in the U.K.

Google’s strong showing in the U.S. and Europe as a reliable Web information source is intriguing since the site largely leaves it to users to figure out what in the sea of unedited search results should be believed or discarded. But that leaves consumers in control, and those consumers count on Google to lead them to the truth.

Behind these stats lie a few phenoms: Yes, online brands are trusted. And in a world of new ubiquitious and international uberbrands, it’s impossible for a local or niche brands to rise up in top lists such as these. But don’t get trapped into old, media 1.0 big-think: The aggregation of the smalls is the powerful force here. Small is the new big.

But the real lesson is what Ad Age said at the end: This is about control, about finding, packaging, editing, judging sources on our own.

The challenge for those black, white, and dead-all-over old properties is to find the ways to contribute to that new world and be found when Google is the front page.

  • Angelos

    There’s nothing as satisfying as holding a newspaper in the morning. Not really a business plan, but…

    Sure, I get most of my information from the web, from sources I’ve deemed trustworthy over time. But that’s because I’m in front of a computer all day anyway.

    But there’s infinitely more misinformation on the internets, because any wackjob, who wouldn’t get near a “real” media job, can just “publish” himself. See: Powerline.

    Of course we had Judith Miller at the NYT too, and the entire WSJ editorial page gets away with printing bullshit on a daily basis.

    Put aside for the moment the appeal, for me, of a tactile product. I guess that makes me old (at 36).

    Is trust the real issue? I doubt it. I think it’s the ubiquity and free availability of the news from the wires. When I read an AP story on at 11pm, and the next morning, the exact story is in my local newspaper, well, that makes Section A pretty much useless, except for the EXCELLENT editorial pages, which aggregates a wide choice of nationally-run left and right op-eds, has a couple very good local peope, and the Letters to the Editor, which is informative on a local basis. Lets me know what people around here are thinking. So pretty much I’m paying for the back two pages of Section A, the Local Section B, the superb comics page in Section C (Life-Food-Entertainment), and the also excellent Sports Section D. Well worth my couple hundred bucks a year.

    I don’t know what will keep the very expensive printing presses open, especially if the classifieds cash cow keeps getting thinner, but it would be a terrible loss.

    Also, can we stop saying X “is the new” Y? It’s really silly. It may have even jumped the couch.

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  • Jim Grier

    Is there a point missed?

    While the lost of twelve coal mine workers and the mistake in reporting their status for 3 hours was terrible, has anyone considered the blessing of the happiest three hours of their lives? They were not entitled to those happy hours, it was a gift. If e can look beyond the current pain, those three hours can be relived over and over and over.

    If only the families rejoice as strongely at the funerals celebrating their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons being welcomed in the presents of God.


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  • Angelos


  • Google’s strong showing in the U.S. and Europe as a reliable Web information source is intriguing since the site largely leaves it to users to figure out what in the sea of unedited search results should be believed or discarded.

    Except, if you’re on page 10 of the results no one’s going to visit. While G runs the links in search results through a tracking script occasionally and there’s the toolbar watching those who use it, users are more or less relying on G’s algorithms and occasional hand-editing. G might “leave it to the users”, but they certainly give some sites a more than healthy head start. For examples, look at all the people who complain or cheer when their site goes up or down in the latest set of results.

  • Robert

    Broadsheet newspaper circulation in the UK is actually pretty much unchanged from 40 years ago.

    Newspapers here are far from dead.