The Norman Transcript

Z_CNHI News Service

August 27, 2013

Journalism's golden age meets its golden opportunity

There’s something reassuring about columnist Paul Greenberg’s prophecy this week about a “new, wide-open, freer era of journalism.”

I always enjoy Greenberg’s columns, particularly the ones where he signs off as “Inky Wretch.” The 76-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner has been around long enough that indeed he probably does have ink in his veins.

And he’s not the only one who is bullish about the future of the press.

His message echoes one I’ve listened to several times in recent weeks as the sale of The Washington Post has some waxing nostalgic, while others are excited about the possibilities of what’s being referred to as “the golden opportunity.”

That’s what Bill Ostendorf, a former Providence Journal graphics and photo editor, thinks newspapers — or news services, if you will — hold in their hands right now.

Ostendorf delivers webinars for newspapers in which he debunks some long-held newsroom schools of thought, such as the idea that there’s no way that newspapers can ever be as good as they once were.

Ostendorf calls B.S. on that with reminders of boring, gray, stodgy pages.

As I listened to his brutally honest assessment, one thing really caught my interest. The one thing he thought newspapers did better once upon a time was to serve readers’ varied interests. Newspapers embraced communities of readers much like what HGTV and the Food Network do today.

Maybe we should have kept loving our readers more.

A local columnist recently wrote about newspapers and “the big news” of the day. Yet, ask 10 people what they consider the “big news,” and it’s likely, depending on age and interests, that you will receive 10 different answers.

How does today’s press even begin to speak to all those readers? By combining a top-drawer print product with unique digital products and social media and making it a whole new ballgame.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Z_CNHI News Service
  • 20140727-AMX-GUNS271.jpg Beretta, other gun makers heading to friendlier states

    In moving south and taking 160 jobs with it, Beretta joins several other prominent gunmakers abandoning liberal states that passed tough gun laws after the Newtown shooting.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 2.21.22 PM.png VIDEO: Dog 'faints' from excitement of seeing owner

    A reunion between a Pennsylvania woman who had been living overseas for two years and her pet schnauzer has gone viral, garnering nearly 20 million views on YouTube.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Grandstands feel a little empty at NASCAR races

    Two decades after NASCAR started running at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the crowds have thinned considerably. It's probably no reflection on the sport's massive following, which stretches from coast to coast, but it surely doesn't NASCAR's image help when the cameras pan across all of those empty seats.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why a see-through mouse is a big deal for scientists

    A group of Caltech researchers announced in Cell Thursday their success in making an entire organism transparent. Unfortunately, this isn't any kind of "Invisible Man" scenario: The organism in question is a mouse, and the mouse in question is quite dead.

    July 31, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.12.55 PM.png VIDEO: Five-year-old doesn't want her brother to grow up

    Sadie, an adorable 5-year-old from Phoenix, wants her brother to stay young forever, so much so that her emotional reaction to the thought of him getting older has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • lockport-police.jpg Police department turns to Facebook for guidance on use of 'negro'

    What seems to be a data entry mistake by a small town police department in western New York has turned into a social media firestorm centered around the word "negro" and whether it's acceptable to use in modern society.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • Rodden, Danny.jpg Sheriff accused of lying about relationship with prostitute

    The sheriff of Clark County, Ind., faces an eight-count federal indictment that accuses him of lying about paying a prostitute for a sex act and giving her a badge so that she could claim a discount rate at a hotel.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo