Newspapers Without Words

I am loathe to criticize the hard work of colleagues in this beleaguered newspaper industry, but it would seem to me, having seen this rollout of the new Orlando Sentinel design, that they think newspapers no longer need words. The assumption seems to be that people are too busy these days to read anything beyond a few paragraphs. The editors talk of being aware of how time pressed the readers are. There’s a vow to rid the paper of long and dense stories. But let me pose a question: Is there any evidence that any format change at any newspaper has made a difference in the bottom line?

The problem is not the journalism, it’s the business model. The simple, scary fact is that content creators are no longer making money. Aggregators make the money. And soon there won’t be much to aggregate. Look at the front page of Google News: It’s full of stories from organizations that are financially struggling. Call it evolutionary if you will, but something’s got to give. And I don’t think more bells and whistles in newspaper design are going to change anything.


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