Thursday, March 23, 2006

Praise be the middleman

I hereby freely stipulate to the challenges faced by newspapers and the general laziness and lack of vision of the industry's management.

But it is an error to think of newspapers as unnecessary and inefficient intermediaries in the flow of information, as do a trio of professors at the Wharton School of Finance in an otherwise illuminating essay at their strategic-management web site.

Newspapers, proffer the profs, "are a textbook example (stockbrokers are another) of an intermediary between sources of information and customers -- a role that is being increasingly challenged by the Internet."

Well-run newspapers (and most of them still are) add genuine value by exposing, vetting, contextualizing (assuming that is a word) and prioritizing valuable and often complex information.

By contrast, stock brokers, real estate agents and car dealers mostly charge a lot of money for introducing inefficiency in their respective markets. Their services generally add little value while significantly increasing transaction costs.

If we were left to a unedited world of canned sound bites, half-baked blog babble and random Net snips on Google News, we would be much more poorly informed and chaos would ensue.

2 Comments:

Blogger R&K said...

"Well-run newspapers (and most of them still are) add genuine value by exposing, vetting, contextualizing (assuming that is a word) and prioritizing valuable and often complex information."

I agree with your assesment on the value of newspapers, however, do you believe that is the common public perception? I fear that many former newspaper readers would now claim that the "contextualizing and prioritizing" is tantamount to bias. Mind you, I don't feel that way, but I have an education in journalism and can distinguish an editorial from a column.

I guess my point is that, I think you are correct in all you say, however if the public views the mainstream media as untrustworthy as the car salesman and stockbroker, then the public will go elsewhere for its news (aka cutting out the "middleman").

Do you agree my assessment of media credibility? And, if so, how does one convince the public that newspapers offer a valuable service, especially in today's information-glutted society?

7:03 AM  
Blogger brian said...

welcome back, kotter ;)

9:37 AM  

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