Eric Alterman has penned an impressively thorough look at the state of the newspaper industry for the New Yorker, where he explains everything that’s hurting newspapers, including the web.
The following snippet illustrates one of the biggest challenges I have with newspapers today:
According to “Abandoning the News,” published by the Carnegie Corporation, thirty-nine per cent of respondents under the age of thirty-five told researchers that they expected to use the Internet in the future for news purposes; just eight per cent said that they would rely on a newspaper. It is a point of ironic injustice, perhaps, that when a reader surfs the Web in search of political news he frequently ends up at a site that is merely aggregating journalistic work that originated in a newspaper, but that fact is not likely to save any newspaper jobs or increase papers’ stock valuation.
I can related to “39% of respondents under the age of thirty-five.” I’ve never read more news than I read today, although the primary place where I read news stories is no longer newspapers or newspaper websites.
First, I don’t read newspapers very often because they’re a day behind and I hate dealing with paper. Second, I don’t like most newspaper websites since they are unusable compared to most modern content management systems. Forced registrations, ranking stale news deemed important above fresh, and marginal to poor RSS integration are three of my peeves.
Another challenge regarding local news is redundancy. I have an insatiable appetite for local news coverage, but I’m not interested in consuming the same story from two daily newspapers and four local TV news teams.
Relying on any one news source for news is stupid, but filtering through the exact same news stories read by different talking heads is a complete waste of time.
My Ultimate Local News Site
I’d like to be able to aggregate every local news source, including newspapers, TV, radio, etc., then filter duplicate news stories. This would allow me to easily consume all of the unique content created by each news outlet every day. I’d also like to filter out content that’s worthless to me, such as TV weather reporting that somehow takes minutes to explain what I can look up in seconds online.
This would allow me to be better informed than I am today with little additional time commitment on my part. I want to efficiently consume all the news that’s truly unique and relevant to me.
In reality, I’d like to apply this to all mainstream news coverage. Why should I read NY Times articles in my local newspaper when I can read them on the NY Times? Because of this, I’d filter out all syndicated content from my local news sources.
After doing this, I think I’m confident that the quality of my online news consuming experience would skyrocket since I would be able to consume many more unique news stories every day without the pain of dealing with duplicate content.