Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why [great] newspapers must survive

It struck me today why newspapers must survive and it was a bit surprising.  (Isn't it wonderful when you can be surprised by your own ideas?  As if they came from another person!)

Browsing the pages of the NY Times it occurred to me the exposure to information in a newspaper is nearly random.  I know the Times has a liberal bias.  I know the 'Book Review' section is about books.  So the exposure may not be truly random.  But the discoveries on each page are somewhat unpredictable and the field so wide that I find myself stumbling into new matter every time.  It is almost like a voyage of discovery into uncharted territories.  Like Darwin trolling the inlets of the Gal√°pagos Islands.

Perhaps this simply discloses my sheltered, naive and uninformed existence.  But the Internet has made search so effective and efficient that it is hard to stumble across information unintentionally today.  Every key word your look for is in the results.  But what if other ideas, tangentially related or unrelated, in the general area or far flung, are interesting too?  How do you expose yourself to that?

Whether intentionally or not, newspapers are the way to do that.  Maybe they shouldn't be called newspapers anymore.  News is something the Internet can deliver faster and cheaper.  Maybe they should be called Random Information Delivery Vehicles or Curated Collections of Loosely Aggregated Facts and Opinions.  Those monikers don't exactly flow from the tongue ;)

In any regard, Newspapers should spoil us with surprises and keep us curious about random facts and figures, stories and insights and delicious details that aren't immediately useful for a long time.