Will Technology Save Journalists?

I travel to work on the train every day and buy the FT at the station kiosk. By the time I get to the office I’ve checked all the articles with a relevance to the Zeta business. I cut them out and place them on the boardroom table for all to see and discuss. At the weekend I carry out the same exercise with the Saturday Guardian, Times, Telegraph and FT Weekend. Old fashioned perhaps, but definitely effective.

I’m asked “Why don’t you use the online versions?”

I do, particularly the FT.com but even when searching the online versions using the exact headline text invariably I can’t find the article. So if I can’t find them this way what chance would there have been for me to discover these articles if I hadn’t bought the paper version? Very little chance. My view is that the actual physical paper still works better than the on-line version viewed by PC or laptop.

The arrival of the tablet, particularly the iPad has the potential to change this downward spiral and halt the loss of traditional standards of journalism.

With the invention of the tablet newspapers aren’t just back; they are here to stay in a user friendly digital format which means that proper journalists once again have a great future. Tablets liberate the reader to browse and share content as opposed to having to search. That’s what newspapers are all about, laid back pleasure, finding the unexpected and reading stuff on a totally random basis. I can now do this on FT.com through the iPad. For me the same isn’t possible on the traditional newspaper web sites.

The tablet also offers another fundamental element to newspapers, much needed revenue. My point is shared by many and there has been a fear that good quality literate investigative journalism would all but vanish into a sea of syndicated mush on difficult to use web sites. With some modern journalists of the mind-set that Twitter, Wikipedia and personal blogs can substitute for proper research and actually getting to ‘the horse’s mouth’. Of absolutely critical importance is that people look on web site content as ‘free’ but fully expect to pay for content through a tablet. That’s a crucial difference.

So journalists sharpen up your pencils and go for it in the old style using the new technology. Also editors, what about re-introducing the once sought after and sadly missed Late Edition?

Roger Allen