Can Kindle save newspapers?

This post was submitted by Chris Delboni.

I had been waiting for a long time for Kindle 2.0, just released last week. I was curious about the first edition of the Amazon.com digital book reader but wasn’t ready to buy it. This time, I couldn’t wait and had it shipped for next day delivery as soon as it came out.

It is not that Kindle has changed dramatically from its 1.0 version. The latest is thinner, lighter and apparently has an enhanced screen and other nice features, but that’s not what got me ready for it. The change came from a broader understanding.

I have argued for a long time that newspapers will always be around. I used to have a mug that said, “I love the smell of print,” or something like that. And I do love it. I love to open the front door every morning and see my dog bringing the paper inside, getting my coffee and reading the news — with that black ink all over my hands and everything I touch. I always resisted the idea that newspapers could die.

But something has changed, and not too long ago.

Technology has improved, making it more proficient to follow the news online or read a digital book. The fact is, technology is finally catching up to substance.

That has affected dramatically the news industry, leaving us, reporters and consumers of news, with many challenges but also opportunities.

Kindle, for instance, makes it easier for me to carry a few 500-page books on my purse and read what I choose during a minute-break, anywhere. It feels like real text in a book. It is easy to read, make note and bookmark pages.

The newspaper subscription is not that well programmed yet. It does not feel like a newspaper. The articles show in a weird way on a page. But it is getting there.

Meanwhile, feed readers on the computer or mobile phones, like NetNewsWire for Mac computers or Google Reader and FeedReader for Windows, do the job and more.

These programs are also making it easier for us to follow the news. I still remember once in a visit to a Brazilian newsroom, waiting to receive breaking news from a wire service machine that looked like a big fax. Now, we can have access to news stories according to our beat and interests, from sources all over the world, from a small online publication in India or Brazil to breaking news at the New York Times, Washington Post or Wall Street Journal online. I have dozens of news feeds from blog posts to mainstream media in one place through NetNewsWire. As a news junkie, there is nothing like it.

My resistance to these new ways to find and read the news is coming to an end. It came from a place of fear that they would impact the quality of news, that everyone would only want to read celebrity news, for instance. But quite the opposite is beginning to happen.

This new technology might just reinvigorate journalists and writers. It is making news – and real news — more accessible to all people in all parts of the world. Not too long ago, I could find only days-old copies of the New York Times at two or three places in São Paulo, which is a city like New York, to catch up with the news in the United States when I went home on vacation in the early 1990s.

I am coming to accept that newspapers as we know them might go away. The smell of the print might go away. But reading is not going away, and neither is good writing.

Kindle made my day. This little device, in its second generation, is proof of that. Maybe through these new “toys,” reading will even become as fun as watching TV for kids.

That means true newsman and newswoman, the press, as we traditionally know it as it relates to the news media, will be in even higher demand as new technology is developed.

It is our job now to set and keep the quality of the content.

Everyone can publish. But as the new-muckrakers, we must ensure newsgathering is still followed by careful verification of information. That’s the basis of journalism.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

Society of Professional Journalism Code of Ethics:

Seek Truth and Report It
Minimize Harm
Act Independently
Be Accountable

  • http://www.al.com/huntsville Victoria Cumbow

    Thank you for your opinion on gathering news. It is my biggest fear, as newspapers struggle, that the gathering and reporting of news will suffer, too.

    “…we must ensure newsgathering is still followed by careful verification of information. That’s the basis of journalism.”

    Thank you for your thoughts. They second my own.

    -a journalist in Alabama

  • Amanda Delboni from Bresil

    Very interesting …

  • http://blogger.com kyla

    Wow, your piece was very interesting to read. Finally, someone who understands that the newspaper industry will have to transform the way they get the news out to the people, not just disappear. The fear of the newspaper industry becoming extinct has spread to everyones head. I agree with you, the newspaper industry has tons of millions of supporters and once they transition the newspaper to a more technology based form, then everyone will feel more at ease. Overall I enjoyed reading your piece. Also, I learned a little more about the new Kindle advice,but I would like to learn more about it. Where can I go to learn a little more about Kindle?

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  • http://www.yahoo.com cubs

    Interesting thoughts. I think you mean Society of Professional Journalists though, not Journalism.

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    They can save paper but its a different feeling if you are reading stuff the way it was

    • sara bell

      Yup! I agree. Technology may have made our lives easier, but it also makes us lazier. And on top of that, people will lose their jobs because of the high-tech gadgets that we have to replace the newspapers. I’m referring to those working in the newspaper print shops, newspaper stands or even the delivery boys. It’s definitely a different feeling.

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      Yup! I agree. There are pros and cons. The Kindle will definitely save newspapers, and technology for that matter may have made our lives easier, but it also makes us lazier. And on top of that, people will lose their jobs because of the high-tech gadgets that we have to replace the newspapers. I’m referring to those working in the newspaper print shops, newspaper stands or even the delivery boys. It’s definitely a different feeling.

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