All Paper Round, All the Time

This weekend there was a little bit of interest in the Paper Round from the Irish Times. Shane Hegarty had a piece on the back page of the Weekend Review section.

For those without an subscription, Gavin Sheridan has provided the text on his new blog, The Story.

I don’t think that his thesis- that blogs are so nimble that sluggish newspapers are doomed – is correct. The Paper Round was a great deal of effort (it isn’t finished yet, by the way. Everyone’s waiting on my notes on the Sunday World and the Sunday Business Post. Aren’t you?) and took much longer to write up than any of the participants expected. It provides a small example of a wider point. Blogs are not newspaper replacements.

Newspapers will doom themselves if they don’t provide readers with real news. It is that simple.

Most bloggers don’t have the time or inclination to become news sources. This isn’t our job. Readers who stop by here may be informed and entertained but we can’t offer the range and depth of coverage that a good newspaper does. One thing is a hobby and the other is a professional institution.

So a rise in blogs won’t be to blame for a fall in newspapers’ quality or sales. Any more than knitting at home was to blame for the fall in Marks and Spencer’s fortunes in recent years.

The alternative to newspapers isn’t blogs. It’s no newspapers.


  • Fergal says:

    Though Shane Hegarty’s write-up was generally sympathetic (not to mention a good deal more grown-up and better written than that of another national daily) I think there’s an element of straw man about the blogs v newspapers angle. None of us suggested for a moment that blogs could replace papers, but some in the press found it was much simpler to assign us that argument, rather than dealing with any of our actual criticisms. I think it is interesting to note that our central gripe – too much press release regurgitation – has been either ignored or admitted by several of those press types who engaged with us, those choosing to ignore it being the same ones who instead busied themselves disproving an argument we had not made.

  • Gavin says:

    I tend to agree Fergal, no one is suggesting that blogs will replace newspapers. What blogs offer is greater scrutiny of an industry that for so long has remained unchallenged in any organised or coherent way. Perhaps newspapers will start to change with the times!

  • Garreth says:

    I suggest that something that could complement rather than be an alternative to newspapers is a serious popular magazine publishing culture.. In the 1970-1990 period Magill gave several budding journalists their first chance to bloom. Deadlines for monthlies and quarterlies give writers the needed leisure to research and ruminate their selected themes. Ireland needs to develop a culture of serious popular magazine publishing similar to France.

  • William says:

    Blogs and the other electronic communication forms, especially tv, are eating away at newspaper circulation. Younger people don’t see anything in newspapers that they haven’t already read the day before on websites, making a paper redundant. That said, the New York Times is a fantastic paper which can be held accountable for its errors, unlike a blogger. It’s just not as agile a publication and uses millions of tonnes of paper and other resources to print and distribute it in a year. We can’t see the future, but I suggest it will not be a newspaper at every doorstep.

  • Celtictigger says:

    As a final comment (from me) at least on the Paper Round, I found this while googling this morning…… It’s the NUJ’s code of conduct.

    Much of what the paper round found would suggest that some journalists are in breach of the very standards that they say make them professionals, as opposed to us unprinicipled and unpaid bloggers. Specifically, the NUJ requires its members to “avoid the expression of comment and conjecture as established fact”.

    Some of the reaction to the Paper Round might also contravene the NUJ’s code of conduct.

    “A journalist shall at all times defend the principle of the freedom of the press and other media in relation to the collection of information and the expression of comment and criticism.”

    I’ve tried to bold the important part OTHER MEDIA as that is important. Paper Round gathered information and expressed comment and criticism.

    The fact that it criticised the print media does not make it any less entitled to defence from paid up NUJ members. NUJ members who may have put less than defending comments in print could technically be in breach of their own code of conduct. Tsk Tsk.

    Blogs will not replace newspapers. However, blogs are a medium for publication of information. It is possible that we will reach a half-way house where the print paper will contain the headline and the key points, but to read the full story and get direct access to published sources you would go to the blog of the relevant journalist or newspaper.

  • […] know from Tuppenceworth’s Paper Round that its pretty much the same deal […]

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