The Herald Bulletin

June 30, 2013

Nathan Brown: We have to keep you coming back

By Nathan Brown
The Herald Bulletin

— The fact that Anderson residents continue to get the newspaper delivered to their doorstep on a daily basis is a commodity to be cherished in today’s world of journalism.

The fact that in a town without a major pro sports organization within 40 miles a newspaper can afford to staff enough people to produce a product that circulates to 30,000 households every day is an impressive feat.

After taking three years of journalism classes at IU, after a while, all you seem to hear from friends, family and professors alike is that journalism is changing, and newspapers may not survive much into the future.

The capabilities of the Internet are growing every single day. Readers are finding out more and more that virtually all of the news they look forward to reading when they walk out to their driveway in their bathrobe and slippers every single morning to retrieve the newspaper can be found online, and nine times out of 10 it’s free of charge.

Yes, some newspapers are trying to protect their products and set up pay walls for their online content so that only subscribers can get their entire product every day. But, especially in larger cities with several newspapers, as long as some newspapers keep their online content free, readers will flock to that online site, leaving print newspaper subscriptions plunging.

At the Associated Press Sports Editors Convention this week in Detroit, I learned that the Detroit Free Press, one of the city’s two major newspapers, has gone to home delivering a print copy of the news just three days a week. Subscriptions are down, interest in having a hard copy is dropping, and it’s often times just not cost effective to put on paper what you can put online for a fraction of the cost.

Yet, just because the methods of journalism are evolving, it doesn’t mean that we, as journalists, shouldn’t continue to hold ourselves to the highest standards. As Gene Myers, the executive director of the Detroit Free Press said during a workshop I attended Saturday, “It’s about the journalism, not about if a dead tree hit someone’s driveway.” He couldn’t have been more right.

In the end, as journalists, we shouldn’t care if our readers drink their cup of coffee with a newspaper or an iPad in their hands to read our stories. Our sole purpose is to get you, the audience, all the information you need to live informed lives every day.

People can get whatever news they’re looking for in a variety of places nowadays. You very well may have trailed off my column several paragraphs ago to pull up the New York Times or ESPN.com, and that’s not your fault. It’s not your job to stay with us; it’s our job to give you a reason to keep coming back.

Nathan Brown in an Indiana University student interning in The Herald Bulletin Sports Department.