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Mar. 4, 2009 10:36 am

Can the Philadelphia general interest newspaper thrive with technology?

The news flew through Twitter like the California fire storm that helped bring the micro-blogging utility to mainstream consumption. Before a newsroom meeting broke, Pulitzer-Prize winning phtographer Jim MacMillan tweeted that the Daily News was being folded into its older, more mature, less fun sister publication, the Philadelphia Inquirer. The message from MacMillan, formerly of […]

The historic white Inquirer building, longtime headquarters of the Philadelphia Inquirer, as seen from the headquarters of Philly.com, on the 35th floor of 1601 Market Street in Center City Philadelphia on Jan. 8, 2009.

The news flew through Twitter like the California fire storm that helped bring the micro-blogging utility to mainstream consumption.

Before a newsroom meeting broke, Pulitzer-Prize winning phtographer Jim MacMillan tweeted that the Daily News was being folded into its older, more mature, less fun sister publication, the Philadelphia Inquirer. The message from MacMillan, formerly of the Daily News, was quickly clarified by Philly.com Editor Wendy Warren, a Daily News alumnae herself. Before then though, Inquirer online editor Chris Krewson had cleared the message for anyone who cared.

The Philadelphia Daily News will at the end of March be considered an edition of the Inquirer, though their staffs and competition will remain the same, for now.

Of course, what’s interesting is that the unsettling, if not undercutting, news of the People Paper first came to the masses via the latest fashionable social media, just the type of tool that newspaper executives seem to suggest could save the general interest urban daily. Well, that or kill it.

There are a host of technology in other forms that some say could bring society back from the brink of the earth-shattering demise of a three-centuries old means of disseminating and collecting information. They say the proliferation of mobile devices, like the Kindle, could be an opportunity to sell packaged news, in a similar though print-less form like today’s newspapers.

Recently, TMCnet talked to Associated Press General Manager for Mobile and Emerging Products Jeffrey Litvack about a new effort  the “Mobile News Network” that brings local, national, international, business, entertainment, sports and other news from more than 1,000 participatingmedia organizations, supplemented by AP text, photos and videos.

Released by the AP’s so-called “digital cooperative” – an effort designed to bring AP members information to new digital outlets, the network is touted by AP officials as a way for local news organizations to increase revenue by introducing interactive content to younger viewers, building brands and offering news around-the-clock. [Source]

Arguments continue to rage on micropayments and protected content, like Newsday’s recent announcement of its protection paywall. Philadelphia’s two largest newspapers will now be a single paper circulating to some 440,000 people which is said to focus on increasing advertising yield and cutting down wire service costs, a big change, but not one that involves innovation.

Without basing on technology, some say the Daily News is destined to die, though Brian Tierney, CEO of Philadelphia Media Holdings, which owns the Inquirer and DailyNews, has said he will not let that happen under his tenure.

To be certain, any and all debate about saving the general interest daily as we know it – void of a single niche, primarily encompassing a broad geographical region and serving as a trusted record-keeper – involves very wide restructuring, most recently and notably seen in Time magazine’s cover story on saving the newspaper.

It must include technology and irrespective of the fads and fashions of Twitter and the like, it will circle somewhere around their form.

Photo by Christopher Wink. The historic white Inquirer building, longtime headquarters of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, as seen from the headquarters of Philly.com, in Center City.

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Christopher Wink

Christopher Wink is a cofounder and Editorial Director of Technical.ly, the local technology news network. Previously, Wink worked for a homeless advocacy nonprofit and was a freelance reporter for a variety of publications. He writes regularly about news innovation and best business practices on his personal blog here. The bicycle commuter loves cities, urban politics and squabbling about neighborhood boundaries.

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