Newspapers are dying but journalism is evolving, an acclaimed science writer told a gathering of the techno-hip at South By South West Interactive Festival on Friday.
Steven Johnson equated newspapers to old growth forests, saying that under the canopy of that aged ecosystem blogging, citizen journalism, Twittering and other Internet-age information sharing is taking root.
"I'm bullish on the future of news," Johnson said.
"I am not bullish on what is happening in the newspaper industry; it is ugly and it is going to get uglier. Great journalists are going to lose their jobs and cities are going to lose their newspapers."
The shift was foreseeable but ignored, resulting in changes that should have happened gradually over a decade being crammed into a year or two with some pressure from the global economic meltdown, according to Johnson.
"There is panic that newspapers are going to disappear as businesses," Johnson said.
"Then there is panic that crucial information is going to disappear along with them. We spend so much time figuring out how to keep the old model on life support that we don't figure out how to build the new one."
News organizations should stop wasting resources on information freely available online, he added. And, they should stop killing trees.
"The business model sure seems easier to support if the printing goes away," Johnson said. "They don't have the print costs."
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson