The Scissors-and-Paste Journalism of the Country Will Be Annihilated

That’s a quote from James Gordon Bennett, editor of the New York Herald, in 1845, a year after Samuel Morse connected Washington, DC, with Baltimore on the information superhighway of the day, the telegraph. But the telegraph didn’t kill the newspaper era. From The Economist:

“The telegraph did indeed reshape the newspaper industry, but not in the way that Bennett and others had predicted. For although telegraph wires could deliver news more rapidly than ever, they had a ‘last mile’ problem: they could not disseminate news quickly to thousands of people. Only printed newspapers could do that. Far from putting papers out of business, the telegraph actually made them more attractive and increased their sales.”

Telegraph Office

Ah…. Perhaps news readers have always valued distribution over the content itself. Bennet is finally right: If you’re in the newspaper business, new technologies have put you in a terrible, probably hopeless, spot. If instead you’re in the news business, though, you’ll figure out how these digital platforms enable more efficient news delivery — dominate that last mile, like you have for the past 200 years! — and you’ll let your legacy newspapers go the way of the telegraph.

  1. # argumentics said: December 28th, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I always had a bug against these technological prediction. Marshal McLuhan was among the greats in this area. Never liked him …

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