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If a newspaper dies in a forest


Some preliminary notes, a reading list, and the hoary question about ‘What is journalism’.

Hello, Students of the Damned.

And by that I mean, welcome to the wonderful world of journalism in flux. Nothing is certain in the online world, except that it’s a great place to be if you like change, uncertainty, and making it up as you go along. Not making up the stories – making up what journalism is, because social media, multiple delivery platforms, UGC, and all the other wonderful benefits/curses of the digital age have made journalism a fascinating industry that continually reinvents itself.

Enough blather – here’s a reading list, although really, you shouldn’t need one. All you need is a search engine, a brain that works, and a high speed connection. Nobody needs to be told what to read anymore. Go find it yourself.

But, in the interests of propping up the lazy sods among you, here are a couple of starting points for a lecture entitled

“‘If a newspaper dies in a forest, and nobody is there to read it….’ The state of the world’s publishing industry.”

The question/s to be answered in class:

What’s the difference between these pieces of content, which of them is journalism, and why?

1. Strikers dance as hospital patients are left high and dry
Lisa Steyn and Tarryn Harbour

2. Strike a rock, don’t objectify it
Valencia Talane

3.Video: The Dancing Striker
Chris Roper


Three Modest Proposals for Online Journalism’s Future
Micah L. Sifry

Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable
Clay Shirky

The Wounded U.S. Newspaper Industry Lost $7.5 Billion in Advertising Revenues Last Year
Erick Schonfeld

The Decline of Newspaper Revenue and the Promise of the Human Network
Bryan Solis

How the Internet is Affecting Traditional Journalism
Jolie O’Dell

Newspapers: 5 Ways to Avoid Extinction
Woody Lewis

12 Things Newspapers Should Do to Survive
Vadim Lavrusik

10 Ways Newspapers are Using Social Media to Save the Industry
Woody Lewis

But seriously –

Go to or Type in search phrases, such as (but not limited to) the following:

social media journalism
Newspaper Online vs. Print Ad Revenue

There’ll be new stuff on these topics by the time class rolls around.

  1. Thanks for the links. This is an interesting debate that I am just starting to read about. Personally, both reading online and in print have there drawbacks, but ultimately I think it is the content (rather than the medium) that matters.

  2. I agree, up to a point. It’s always going to be content first, but medium is vitally important. Especially if the medium determines what and who the audience is, because even more important than content, is readers.

  3. But, surely it is the content that readers come for – even if it is user generated.

  4. no, different readers congregate around different platforms and devices. So creating content also means doing device-specific iterations. for example, mobile vs print, but there are many less obvious examples than that.
    And, of course, different types of readers can be demarcated by particular devices. So a story on, say, the strikes, would have a different flavour on a Mxit feed than on a M&G feed.

  5. Is there anyway to subsrcribe to comments on this post?

    You make a valid point. It is about getting the intersection between content,device, and platforms right to get an audience. That is a difficult think to do. But, something that I need to apply to my writing. Thanks.

  6. I thought these comments automatically were fed to commenters? I’ll look into it.

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