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September 14, 2007

Hinterland Diary: The newspaper brand

John Stoehr

Another way of looking at Old Media v. New Media . . .

One of the ways people still seek a seal of quality is through brands, and those may be the bastions of quality that have always been in place (whatever you believe those brands may be). But the point is that the decentralizing of news doesn't mean that the "old media world," but certainly a shift in how that old media functions. It's big benefit is that the brand already has a reputation with its audience.

This all takes me to a recent editorial in The Boston Globe by Sven Birkerts. Sven, an art critic, writes:

For as exciting as the blogosphere is as a supplement, as a place of provocation and response, it is too fluid in its nature ever to focus our widely diverging cultural energies. A hopscotch through the referential enormity of argument and opinion cannot settle the ground under our feet. To have a sense of where we stand, and to hold not just a number of ideas in common, but also some shared way of presenting those ideas, we continue to need, among many others, The New York Times, the Globe, the Tribune, the LA Times, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

While I don't think that we need any of those institutions in particular, in that it is no given that these news sources will inevitably be here a century from now, the point is that we do still care very much about the validity and reputation of a news source, and even when you move away from print, the brand behind news and commentary still matters very much.

From the blog for Convergence Culture Consortium, a media studies think tank affiliated with the Massechusetts Institute of Technology. This entry was written by Sam Ford.

Posted by John Stoehr at September 14, 2007 11:27 AM


There are several of us in our shop who say over and over again, "Whatever we do on the web, don't cheapen our brand name."

Let's not put up low-quality photo albums just because they generate hits, run unmonitored comments on stories and message boards just in the name of interactivity (I'm all for comments and message boards, but without a gate keeper, they can get really ugly, really quickly) and other things that can quickly take you from local paper of record to less reputable than a supermarket tabloid.

There are a lot of great things papers can do on the web. In fact, newspapers are probably better positioned than any other media outlet in their community to be the most active, reliable and thorough news source for their town on the web.

But it has to be done with imagination and professionalism.

Print editions probably will fade away -- the iPhone finally convinced me of that. But there's no reason that the institutions that produce print newspapers can't continue to be leading news sources for decades.

Posted by: Rich Copley at September 14, 2007 1:38 PM