A rep from the Publishers’ Auxiliary, the trade newspaper for the National Newspaper Association, just requested reprint permission for my last MediaPost column, The Future Of News Is ‘Small’. I accepted the request without reservation, but it got me thinking further about the core issue I just wrote about.
Putting aside the irony of a print-only trade publication (written for community newspaper publishers) requesting to run my online-only column largely about the digital future of news, I think the NNA members (community newspapers) actually are doing at least one thing very right. The crux of my column’s analysis was that the smallness and accessibility of individual voices will become a critical underpinning of the news business in an age where trust in what’s big declines. In many ways, community newspapers are just that: small and accessible.
This event prompted me to reflect on a few key habits in my own life. First, I consume almost all of my news and commentary via RSS feeds — be it mainstream news, specialized business and trade sources or individual, independent voices from blogs. After reviewing all of my RSS feeds, I noticed that roughly half are big, legacy news brands, and the other half are independent voices on blogs. And that’s an important split, because it underscores that legacy news brands’ biggest competition is not necessarily other big news brands — it’s the proliferation of many small, accessible voices and sources. Moreover, all of the big and small neatly aggregate into my personalized online multimedia channel called GoogleReader (username maxkalehoff). GoogleReader is my newspaper front page, radio and television channel — all in one.
Notwithstanding the significance of the Internet in propagating what is small, I also reflected on the fact that there’s one remaining print newspaper still delivered regularly to my household: The Pelham Weekly, our very own community newspaper. It’s one of the few publications I dissect from cover to cover, and for which the editorial and ads truly are raw, amateur, imperfect and reflective of the community — and therefore real and compelling.
Oh, but there might be one more. My wife mentioned she’s considering subscribing to her hometown’s Swarthmorian.
I repeat, the future of news is “small”.