John McQuaid has a good post that dovetails with my previous post about newspaper Web sites becoming more immediate. He argues, correctly, that printed newspapers seem ever more out of date and, well, a bit unkempt:
The old-fashioned physical newspaper is outdated the moment it’s printed. And (with exceptions, of course) it’s not finely crafted. It’s worth waiting for this week’s New Yorker. Not so the morning paper, anymore. The problem here goes beyond the newsprint issue. Newspapers (still) have large bureaucracies of editors, copy editors, photo editors, et al who are trapped by their own habits and prejudices. The traditional newspaper voice is outmoded, weirdly opaque. (I was reading a recent NYTimes story for research today, and was having trouble getting through it because I couldn’t tell what the reporter really thought amid the dutiful quoting of various sources and bland NYT-style declarations). And the content itself, as papers shrink, will get weaker.
The answer, I think, is obvious. The “daily” part of newspaper journalism has become a trap. It’s too slow for today’s readers, not slow enough for good in-depth journalism. Get rid of “daily” obligations, the filing for tomorrow. Focus on immediacy. Liberate reporters’ voices. But: devote some resources to long form and craft.
I made a similar point a while back, that printed newspapers are starting to feel increasingly out of date, even on the day they were printed. I think our long-held perceptions of printed newspapers are starting to really change. But I think this is still hard for a lot of print journalists to deal with. The medium is metamorphosing before our eyes–and it needs to continue to change to find its future.