I was asked by Daniel Weintraub at The Bee to write an editorial for the paper. It ended up not on paper, but on The Bee's website, here.
And here's the actual text...
Paper is passe, but the need for news lives on
I was in San Francisco recently, sleeping above a quiet residential street. At sunrise, I heard a sound like nail guns: "POW!" "Pow, pow, pow, pow, pow!" It echoed up the street, and as a vehicle drove past, I realized that it was the free daily Examiner being delivered to every house.
It was so industrial, it reminded me that what is changing most these days is not journalism itself, but its means of delivery. The resources required to create and deliver the paper are getting scarcer and more expensive.
But the human need to tell stories, and to hear them told, is not gone. Nor is the need for accurate, dependable information in a free society. With the Internet, the information and the stories are more easily available than ever before. This is good.
But the nature of journalism, like its delivery, is also changing. These days, the Internet has made "broadcasting," in all its forms, passé. The model that traditional journalists take for granted, whether in print or on radio or TV, is morphing. The Internet allows for a "narrowcasting" of the news, which appeals to readers interested in specific topics and advertisers interested in reaching specific groups of people.
But more crucially, the Internet provides two-way communication. I'd like to see more direct input from the public. Readers responding to news stories, readers writing news stories, and all of it delivered via the Web. The Internet has turned the model of large newspapers being the "gatekeepers" of information on its head. Large newspapers are still diligently minding the "gates," but the fences are down. The information is flowing around those gates.
Although the Sacramento Press is largely reader-written, I continue to encourage the age-old principles of newspapers - accuracy, fairness, timeliness - for the simple reason that newspapers evolved over a long time in a very competitive and flexible market, and those principles work. But we are all gatekeepers now.
David Watts Barton is the managing editor of the Sacramento Press at www.sacramentopress.com