This chart comes from the N2 Newspaper Next report recently issued by the American Press Institute (click to enlarge).
I'm sitting at a conference on the future of news, sponsored by the Shorenstein Center at Harvard, where Scott Anthony, who leads the Newspaper Next project is giving a presentation about the report. (Click here for a live webcast of the conference. I'll be on a panel with this afternoon.)
I agree with many of the things Scott has to say: newspapers are not devoting nearly enough resources to innovation, many are not thinking sufficiently outside the box in order to reinvent themselves in the internet age. The report - and Scott's presentation - contains a great deal of useful analysis about the lack of innovation in the newspaper industry today, with many ideas for how newspapers can innovate, reach new "audiences," and fill new and un-filled needs of consumers.
But. However. I'm sitting next to Jeff Jarvis listening to all this, and we are shaking our heads. While acknowledging the report is a good start, Jeff recently wrote: "the task force that made this report and many of the projects that come out of it are still insular, with very little effort to get new voices, fresh blood."
The thing is, this report still views news - and journalism - as a linear process. The news organization speaks, and the "consumer" and "audiences" receive happily - and even more happily when the newspaper has innovated and figured out how to meet their information needs better. What they miss completely is that media has now gone non-linear. On the Live Web, news has the potential to be a genuine conversation with citizens and communities. How do you welcome the members of your community into the conversation - to participate in the civic discourse? That should be the central question.
In the Q&A Jeff put it more sharply, pointing out that the N2 report still applies the "old model of consumer.. sitting with our heads back consuming content and crapping cash." [Clarification: Jeff points out he was quoting Doc Searls there.]
News organizations have got to start treating people - fellow citizens - as equals in a conversation about public affairs. The web makes that possible. It's in the public interest and it's how news organizations can win over (or regain) the public's respect.
With trust and respect, business models will follow. Without trust and respect, everything else is ultimately a waste of time - at least if your goal is journalism, not just infotainment and marketing.
(NOTE that the N2 report is available in PDF only, and they require that you fill out a form with your personal info in order to get the PDF. What's more, the page containing the direct link to the PDF says: ("PLEASE DO NOT PUBLISH OR DISTRIBUTE THIS LINK." How un-blogger friendly is that? It demonstrates that they are treating you as a consumer who should gratefully receive their wisdom rather than as an equal partner in a conversation. They're more interested in getting your information for marketing purposes than in maximizing the spread of their ideas - or in engaging in a conversation with you about their ideas.)