HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Opening up the archives: JSTOR wants to tie a library to the news
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Dec. 19, 2012, 1:01 a.m.

The end of “disruption”

“The big, transformative changes in the industry — the shifts in the habits of readers and advertisers — happened years ago, and since then a kind of uneasy stability has taken hold.”

In 2013, news will continue to be made and reported. Much of it will be bad. Some of it will be good.

In 2013, newspapers and newsmagazines will struggle to make ends meet. Some will go out of business. Some will be acquired. Some will survive into 2014, at which point they will continue to struggle to make ends meet.

In 2013, ad sales will be crucial to the health of the news business, and ad sales will follow a cyclical pattern, tied to the health of the economy. But ad sales won’t be enough, not for general interest publications, anyway, and so we’ll see more experiments with online paywalls and subscription plans.

In 2013, breaking news will be reported immediately through the web, and online forums will provide endless opportunities to discuss the news. But the “atomic unit” of journalism (to borrow a term beloved by news pundits and no one else) will be the story.

I make these obvious observations not to be glib but to point out that many of journalism’s fundamental qualities aren’t changing, or at least aren’t changing all that much. That’s true even when you look at the technological and financial aspects of the news as a business. Searching, aggregating, linking, blogging, craigslisting, photosharing, social networking, microblogging: These things are not new anymore. The big, transformative changes in the industry — the shifts in the habits of readers and advertisers — happened years ago, and since then a kind of uneasy stability has taken hold.

The future is uncertain, yes, but the future has been uncertain for a while now. The basic dynamics of the news business didn’t change much from 2010 to 2011 to 2012, and I suspect they won’t change much in 2013 or, for that matter, in 2014.

For a long time now, “disruption” has been the go-to buzzword in commentary about journalism. Pundits and consultants love to say “disruption” because the word tends to attract money and attention. But the word is starting to ring hollow. Throwing it around today seems more like a way to avoid hard thinking than to engage in it. Maybe 2013 will be the year when we finally stop talking about “disruption.” I hope so, because then we can start giving as much consideration to what endures as to what changes.

Nicholas Carr’s most recent book is The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, which was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction. He blogs at roughtype.com.

POSTED     Dec. 19, 2012, 1:01 a.m.
PART OF A SERIES     Predictions for Journalism 2013
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Opening up the archives: JSTOR wants to tie a library to the news
Its new site JSTOR Daily highlights interesting research and offers background and context on current events.
Six fresh ideas for news design from a #SNDMakes designathon
New media and legacy media came together at the second weekend-long “hackathon” hosted by the Society for News Design.
Where you get your news depends on where you stand on the issues
A new study by the Pew Research Center examines how Americans’ news consumption habits correlate with where they fall on the political spectrum.
What to read next
1020
tweets
The newsonomics of the millennial moment
The new wave of news startups is aiming at a younger audience. But do legacy media companies have a chance at earning their attention?
803A mixed bag on apps: What The New York Times learned with NYT Opinion and NYT Now
The two apps were part of the paper’s plan to increase digital subscribers through smaller, targeted offerings. Now, with staff cutbacks on the way, one app is being shuttered and the other is being adjusted.
537Watching what happens: The New York Times is making a front-page bet on real-time aggregation
A new homepage feature called “Watching” offers readers a feed of headlines, tweets, and multimedia from around the web.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
The Ann Arbor Chronicle
IRE/NICAR
The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Times of London
Media Consortium
Daily Mail
The New Yorker
Wikipedia
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Reddit
Craigslist
Gotham Gazette