The Truth Comes From The Mouth Of The Dead
A reason to hope for the press?
A few days ago died Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Publisher and then Chairman & CEO of The New York Times for 34 years. The lengthy obituary which was dedicated to him by his newspaper cites an interview he gave during his retirement in which he promotes a very interesting vision of journalism:
“I think that paper and ink are here to stay for the kind of newspapers we print. There’s no shortage of news in this world. If you want news, you can go to cyberspace and grab out all this junk. But I don’t think most people are competent to become editors, or have the time or the interest. You’re not buying news when you buy The New York Times. You’re buying judgment.”
I have often promoted the same idea on Superception and am glad to see it highlighted by Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
However, the former New York Times Chairman’s statement deserves three comments:
- The equation is different for local newspapers – it is both harder and easier for a website to compete with them – from what it is for national papers.
- The added value of the press is not just discernment – i.e. putting events into perspective. It must also be reporting on the ground, something that is not done by most of the news websites.
- The most dangerous competition for the press may come from specialized news websites which produce excellent analysis and are not limited to the aggregation of contents created by others. The best example is provided by POLITICO, which is often as relevant as The New York Times when it comes to dissecting the American political life. But the New York paper – as some other major American newspapers – cannot be challenged by any website for its ability to provide high-quality reporting and analysis for all the news.