We've found the problem, and it is apparently the Internet.
Why else are publishers touting every conceivable non-desktop, non-laptop, non-smartphone gizmo as a way to save the industry.
We've got the Kindle hailed as a potential savior, with even the estimable Steve Rubel joining in.
We've got Hearst moving forward with a new e-reader, better designed for newspaper and magazine formats.
We've got MediaNews' new iNews, which apparently will require a proprietary printer -- just what my desk needs; how about yours? -- so it can format customized content and then send it on to the device of my choice. "Goofy" is media writer David Brauer's take, with his post and the comments on it worth a read.
You half expect Belo to bring back the CueCat, on which it lost $37.5 million. Small change, but about enough to pay for two years of the Rocky or the PI in print form.
I feel like I'm stuck in Danny Dunn's Donut Machine, having a conversation with Rube Goldberg.
I guess it isn't surprising that publishers are focusing on the wrapper, not the content. But it's not the bun, it's the hot dog we should keep our eye on. The hot dog is the content, and the Internet does a great job of moving the content around. There are 1.5 billion people around the world who believe the current ways of accessing the web work just fine for them; I haven't seen any surveys asking for new devices.
Don't get me wrong. Devices like the Kindle, which aggregate a (growing) world of books and periodicals, offer a good alternative, a niche add-on for dedicated readers.
News, though, for most of us most of the time is something we consume on the run and through the day, in snippets here and there, and in relation to other work we're doing on a computer. It's in our workflow, our lifeflow, and much of that flow comes through some kind of multifunction computer, whether in lap, desk or phone form.
So get on the Kindle -- it won't hurt -- as long as you don't bet the ranch on it. The key here, though, is getting a better position in that workflow and lifeflow, which is in the very nature of what we love about the Internet as users and fear about it as journalists.