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 Ireland.com 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.