Alex Jones says newspapers are lean, mean, underappreciated, and ready to make a comeback

Jack Lail blogged about NPR’s Alex Jones interview yesterday. Jones is a member of a multi-generation family-owned newspaper company and director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He recently wrote Losing the News: The Future of the News That Feeds Democracy (Institutions of American Democracy).

Here’s a link to Jack’s summary of the interview, and here’s an embed of the interview itself.  Interesting listening for those interested in news, newspapers, family-owner newspapers, talk radio, cable news shows and more – Jones has opinions on all.

Here’s my (very condensed) set of highlights:

Jones on the common wisdom of the past several years that “hyperlocal” news coverage (kids sports like T-ball and neighborhood type news) was going to be the way readers reengaged with newspapers: “I just don’t buy it. I think people still want serious news.”

Jones doesn’t believe paid content shift will be successful. “That genie is out of the bottle.”

He is optimistic that newspapers are in good shape because they are now “lean and mean” (though he thinks too lean in the case of newsrooms), and now that many are starting to make modest operating profits again, they will be in a position to rebuild.

And my favorite, he argues that newspapers don’t make the case well enough that they are the originators of most of the news that appears on TV. “People confuse where they get their news from who got the news in the first place.

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