In with the new…

Whilst we’re *still* waiting for some kind of Apple iTablet for ereading, the rest of the world moves on. A couple of US links worth a look. Firstly, a post in the LATimes looking at Club Penguin, Disney’s virtual world, populated by 12 million kids – especially its online newspaper. The piece suggests that the newspaper industry look and see what Disney might doing right:

The newspaper industry is constantly bewailing its need for a new economic model, as the Internet upends the old one. Maybe it could take a page from the Club Penguin Times.

The Club Penguin Times, after all, is more widely read than New York’s Daily News, the Chicago Tribune, or The Dallas Morning News. And it’s not even 3 years old.

Link number two is from the NYTimes which looks at how Newsweek is combining some of its political articles together into electronic anthologies, available only for the kindle:

This week, Newsweek will publish four books, one about each of the major presidential and vice presidential candidates — Senators John McCain,Barack Obama and Joseph Biden, and Gov. Sarah Palin — books that will not appear in print but will be available only as e-books from for download to Amazon’s Kindle device.

And finally, today’s Sydney Morning Herald turned over its opinion pages to its CEO, giving him space to staunchly defend the activities at Fairfax. In a rebuke to the Roy Greenslades of the world, he summarises:

Ten years ago, the internet was in its infancy and Google did not exist. AOL offered dial-up walled gardens, and broadband was a pipedream. So it is hard to forecast what will be by 2020. But my belief is that, in large cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, there is a vigorous and profitable market among the educated and higher-income audiences we primarily attract for a quality broadsheet newspaper.

I’ve argued long and hard about this type of position. The *idea* of a newspaper (with its commitment to quality journalism, identity-building, and democracy enhancing activities) will not go away. Just like the *idea* of books. There are enough people kicking around who want what those things. But confusing the *idea* with the delivery mechanism ignores the possibilities of the new media forms. There’s no reason why the SMH online can’t be everything that the SMH on paper is, once we figure out the (nontrivial) problem of how to pay for it. 🙂

Which in an unplanned moment of closure brings us back to Disney!


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