The Demise of Quality? Quality Newspapers and the Information Function of Libraries on the Brink of Collapse or Resurrection?

Joost Kircz, August Hans den Boef, Jelke Nijboer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionProfessional

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In The Guardian, Alan Rushbridger compared the future of newspapers to climate change. Five years ago, many climatologists were sceptical whether climate change was a real and serious issue. Today, most scientists agree that global warm ing is a fact of life. In the world of newspapers, at present, almost everyone agrees that the traditional, particularly quality, newspapers are facing huge problems. The blog ‘Print is dead’ chose a fitting title for Rushbridger’s article: Print is dead: an inconvenient truth. Another traditional icon of the information society, the public library, is facing similar problems as the newspaper industry. The information function, the core business of the library, is under threat. People tend to use search engines at home instead of visiting and accessing the (virtual) library and ask for professional advice. It is important to note that these search engines are more and more driven by commercial interests than by a genuine concern of quality information. Ranking algorithms are more beauty contests and quality stamps. (Local) governments tend to demand more and more new social services included in the library. Commercial publishers’ concerns are understandable. In the United States and Europe the world of the press faces a real crisis, and the battle to survive is a race against the clock. Newspapers, especially the quality press, will only survive if they can persuade the audience of generation Z to read them on the Web. Failure to do this will signal their demise. We will discuss the tensions in this field by addressing the mutual relationships between the stock market driven economic business model and the traditional characteristics of quality journalism as well as the cultural changes in consuming news stories and analyses in print and on the web. The key question is: how these societal tendencies will affect the quality of information consumed by the public and hence the public quality of discourse? This paper aims to address both issues by asking whether quality is really under siege and to what extent can the new, convergent media improve the quality of the information society by fostering the interaction of the roles of journalists and librarians. In the new world of journalism and librarianship both will prove their roles and functions by engagement, enrichment, empowerment and entertainment for both readers and library users.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings 16th BOBCATSSS Symposium 2008
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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