Nieman Foundation at Harvard
The Globe and Mail has built a paywall that knows when to give up
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Jan. 21, 2009, 7:01 a.m.

Meet: Mathew Ingram

Hello, readers. My name is Mathew Ingram, and I’m a journalist with the Globe and Mail, a daily newspaper in Toronto and one of Canada’s two national newspapers. I’ve been a business reporter, stock-market columnist, online technology writer and (most recently) a blogger for the Globe over the past 15 years or so, and recently became the paper’s first “communities editor.” My main role in that job is to think about all the ways in which we interact with our readers — from story comments and blogs to wikis, Twitter, Facebook, and everything in between — and how we can do that better.

To many people, this may seem like a terrible time to be a newspaper journalist. After all, newspapers are closing up shop, shutting down their print editions, filing for bankruptcy, and generally sliding deeper and deeper into irrelevance, aren’t they? Well, yes and no. Yes, a major newspaper — the Christian Science Monitor — recently decided to stop printing a daily edition, and yes, Tribune Co. has filed for bankruptcy, saddled by billions of dollars in debt. Other papers are struggling financially as well, including the venerable New York Times. Does all of this fill me with gloom? Not at all.

And not just because I’m Canadian (although our industry is somewhat healthier). The reality is that I see the upheaval sweeping through our industry as a fundamentally positive force in the long run, as chaotic and painful as it may seem right now. That may not come as much comfort if you are one of the thousands who are losing their jobs at papers across the country, but I believe it is true nonetheless.

The evolution of an industry is rarely a calm or peaceful process, but it is necessary, and I think in many ways it could turn out to be hugely beneficial for journalists and for journalism, if not for newspapers. It is forcing us to forget about the “paper” part of the word newspaper and focus instead on the journalism that we do, and why we do it, and to think of new ways of doing it.

That’s what I find fascinating about the newspaper business right now. Who is finding new ways to tell stories and report the news? Who is taking advantage of new tools like Twitter and Flickr and YouTube and Facebook to do their jobs better and build relationships with readers around their content? Those are the kinds of things I’ll be writing about here. (I’ll still be writing about less journalistic issues on my personal blog.) If you or your paper are doing interesting things along those lines, please drop me a note at mathew (at)

POSTED     Jan. 21, 2009, 7:01 a.m.
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