Are Newspapers Like Yiddish?

ClickZ writer Kate Kaye posts about what she describes as a “cage match” between Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft on a partnerships panel at a recent NAA newspaper conference:

It’s not often you get the chance to see representatives from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo sitting in close proximity on the same stage. At yesterday’s Newspaper Association of American conference here in NYC, I was among the few to experience just that. The main goal of the “Partnerships in Transition” panel was to help newspaper publisher execs understand just what these Web behemoths want with them already. I’m not sure they got their answer, but things were sure interesting in the meantime.

I wasn’t there but what’s so interesting about this panel and the apparently playfully combative discussion among the search engines is the fact that lots of folks are writing off (print) newspapers. But at this moment of their seeming weakness, relationships with them are paradoxically in very high demand among the Internet bellwethers.

It’s completely ironic. But maybe not. As soon as Yiddish was pronounced a “dead language” there was a huge surge of interest. 🙂

Anyway, I was with the AJC in Atlanta yesterday and they’re doing some very interesting things. It’s way too soon to dismiss newspapers blithely as many commentators do.


2 Responses to “Are Newspapers Like Yiddish?”

  1. eli Says:


    First, let me say that I’ve been following this debate for quite some time. I agree that it’s too soon to dismiss newspapers – and that’s not just because I’m in the industry. Greg i was there with you and the AJC and I too am excited about the discussion. Could be some great things.

    What interests me most about this topic is my true passion, something one of my professors coined “Remediation” (Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin),
    and that is the process of redefining rules and conventions of new media forms and existing media forms.

    My point is that we really haven’t seen any medium truly die out or go away in our history. Even oral storytelling is still around, though not practiced in the same ways or used for the same purposes as originally used.

    My response to Gates and the like is “wait and see.” I bet that print will never go away, just that motivations and resulting products will change. I don’t think you’d find much disagreement with the fact that print, particularly newspapers are rife with problems – an aging readership, immediate expiration of data upon publication, lack of immediacy, etc. – but people still consume data using this medium.

    Perhaps newspapers will become “daily magazines” so a user who does not need immediate news can take her time and consume at her leisure. I’m watching this closely and can’t wait to see what happens.

  2. Dan Miller Says:

    There’s a maxim in marketing to the effect that “Scarcity creates demand.” Let’s have a few publications die out. Then see the demand for content grow, if for no other reason than nostalgia for the non-existent past.

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