Friday, 16 January 2009

THE TIMES they are a changin’

(By Richard Holway) I’ve spent the weekend in our place in the Lake District so I didn’t buy all the newspapers I usually read. Iinstead I scanned The Times on my Apple iPod Touch.

The first article I read was by Dan Sabbagh discussing the sale of the Evening Standard. Sabbagh says “Where once there were 14 paid for evening newspapers in London, now there is one and the truth is that Britons are just not willing to buy a paper in the evening.” I realise that Dan was referring to the many free London newspapers being handed out. But the reason I haven’t bought an Evening Standard for ages is that I get on the train and read the news on my Blackberry on the internet. Indeed in just the same way as I was reading The Times this weekend.

The next article I read in the Times was by Murad Ahmed. Apple fans left fearful was a collection of quotes from tech blogs about how Apple followers were reacting to the news of Steve Jobs new health scare. It was as good a demonstration of how ‘influencers’ – almost always bloggers – were changing the landscape as you will get. Indeed, Ahmed is a regular HotViews reader and often quotes us too. We find HotViews quoted throughout the world on a daily basis.

Of course the main news of the day was the amazing miracle of the plane crash in the Hudson River. The picture on The Times front page had been taken by Janus Krums on his iPhone and uploaded immediately to Twitter. The Twitter site crashed under the weight of traffic. See Mobile phone photo flashed around the world.

It hit me that, in a few minutes surfing The Times website, I had examples of the huge revolution that was happening in both news gathering and how we, the readers, consumed that news.

I know it has its dangers, but the new ways of news gathering - where the whole world is your journalist - is exciting.

I know there are some who believe that printed newspapers will always be around. They are probably right. But I suspect that will be the minority way that news gets read. Ebooks and MiDs will revolutionise the way news is consumed. Even those who like to read from the printed page will install A3 printers in their homes and offices and print out the latest editions (like we had each day on the ship we were on during a visit to China last year)

The main area of concern I have is over funding. Everything I read this weekend was 'free'. I also cannot recall seeing any ads and certainly didn't click any. Creating a revenue model really is proving elusive - but these levels of service cannot be provided free for ever (can they?)

The Times is certainly a-changin


Robin said...

Richard, a point of clarification - Twitter did not go down during the reaction to the plane crash in the Hudson. One of the many apps built to interact with Twitter, but a separate service, Twitpic, which hosted the picture did. Notable given the reliability problems Twitter has had in its evolution. - See here from June last year.
The Mumbai bombings and the Hudson crash are being talked about as the coming of age of Twitter as they have appeared to have fixed these issues.

Richard Hyett said...

Here is one answer from Dan Gillmor