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When print fades

This is not a good week for news about print news.
Newspaper circulation continues to fall -- dropping another 2.6%, according to the latest figures.
MediaLife magazine is predicting that one of the three major newsweeklies will soon fail.
A giant of the daily newspaper industry -- Knight-Ridder -- is facing pressure from shareholders who want to exit the business.
And, of course, the culprit cited again and again in these tales of woe is the Internet.
I should be more sympathetic. Dozens of people I care about deeply work in print. But as I've written before, I'm having a hard time being nice anymore. I hear too much whining these days. Sure, the Internet was a confusing place a few years ago. I remember in the early 90s when all of this was new and I was a bureau chief at Knight Ridder. When I talked about online back then, everyone was confused. Hell, I was confused, and I was the one trying to convince my bosses to move some of our products to the Internet.
But this is 2005. And how the hell can anyone still be confused?
If you're a reporter or editor who bemoans the loss of the past and resents the future, here's what you need to know:
-- your publication can't survive in print alone, and nor can you.
-- your publication is becoming a multimedia operation, and you best become a multimedia operator.
-- you can not transplant much of what you believe is good about your work in print (story structure, writing style, story length) to an online environment. Having worked in print does not make you an expert in online.
-- the people you work with and for are growing less patient with you, your lack of new media skills, your glamorized vision of print, your lack of enthusiasm for new products and new storytelling techniques, your stubborn personality and your delusional belief in the value of your outdated skills.
For more on journalism's problems and how to fix them, check out this post on a blog by Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News.

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