Out of Date – Out of Time?

Is journalism about to become history, noted in the ebooks as an antiquarian profession? There seem to be those who thinks traditional, fact-finding, journalism may already be dead. The major European finacial newspaper, Finacial Times Deutschland makes its last edition tomorrow, December 7. It will be like a funeral.

“News is becoming ever more streamlined. The concept of whole, complete article is out of date.”

Sascha Lobo

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The Financial Times Deutschland is hitting the newstands for the last time on December 7, and the Frankfurter Rundschau is insolvent. Behind this, lies a development that is bigger than the Internet, says media guru Sascha Lobo: news is becoming ever more streamlined. The concept of whole, complete article is out of date.

Food for thoughts her, at www.europress.eu:

“Don’t shoot the messenger” is the English proverb, meaning “Don’t punish the bearer of bad news.” Sure – but it’s hard not to.

The dying of the print media in Germany seems to have begun, and apparently the victims range from the left (Frankfurter Rundschau) to the centre (Financial Times Deutschland) – from the higher echelons including business magazine Impulse, to the lower ones such as lifestyle magazinePrince, which will be sold strictly online as of January 2013.

A lively discussion about the causes, and conclusions that must be drawn, has begun. Often it’s about business models, newspapers and of course the Internet. Less commonly, it’s about how the concept of news itself has changed, whether printed or pixilated.

Behind this lies a development bigger than the Internet. The history of technology is a history of streamlining: apparently, humanity has always striven to make the world fluid – and the Greek aphorism “Panta Rhei” (“Everything flows”) is to be grasped not as a declaration but as a clarion call.

Ironically, printed newspapers, which emerged in the early 17th Century, promoted streamlining in a crucial way; they were much faster at getting information across than the books that had been used until then. Digitisation and networking followed.

Written news therefore, whether on paper or via the Internet, comes in article form, which is the customary way it is consumed. But perhaps that will change, just because the audience also expects that same streamlining here. News gives you the feeling that you are up to date with the latest events. Perhaps it is not the printed newspaper, but the static coverage and the concept of a completed news article that lies at the heart of the crisis.

Brave news world

In the print media, those who avoid the streamlining culture best, are those outlets which remove themselves from mere reportage.

The printed magazine Landlust (covering life in the German countryside), which can be counted as a success, as it covers topics that keep it at a safe distance from the world of traditional news.

The Economist, hailed as a role model in both its printed and pixelated versions, sums up world news events in the print edition in one to three sentences; the remainder of the articles are analyses, background reports and opinion pieces. That is, texts that will help to understand the news process, rather that putting a reporter on them to flash-freeze them at a point in time.

A news article, regardless of the medium, is no longer enough to describe the world. The growing streamlining can be seen on the Internet as well, and for that reason the static article of news coverage we have grown used to has become obsolete. The news process does not tolerate any downtime.

Read the rest here.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Out of Date – Out of Time?

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