With all the conjecture about the future of the news media floating around cyberspace and the constant debates about new media vs. old media; bloggers vs. journalists and when exactly newspapers will die off completely, it was such a pleasure to read a book rooted in facts, and filled with people who care deeply about the industry. Not only do these people understand the landscape of digital news, they are crafting the future and their ideas make sense.

The author is Ken Doctor, and if you don’t know him, you should get to know him. Ken is a leading media industry analyst and a super-smart guy. I know him from his blog, Content Bridges, which is a favorite in my RSS feed and I am never disappointed with anything he writes.

In Newsonomics: Twelve new trends that will shape the news you get; Doctor takes us from the early days of journalism, sharing his own experiences during a lengthy career with Knight-Ridder to current-day issues, attitudes and concerns…and everything in between.

He talks about the curmudgeons who are so often blasted by new media types (myself included at times) but in a way that helps you understand them better. There is so much more to this debate, and  it is uncovered beautifully throughout the pages of this book. News is changing, but it is nowhere near death.

On page 3, Doctor writes:

“The second decade of the twenty-first century will truly be a Digital News Decade, just as the first has been one of profound transformation. ”

The transformation referenced is what the first part of the book explores in great depth. The title of chapter four sums it up well: The Old News World is Gone — Get Over It.

Doctor has coined a specific group of organizations: “the digital dozen” which he says will dominate. These companies have one common mantra: Produce once, distribute many.Who are they you might ask?

The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Times Online,  NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News. NPR is also a player, as is the AP and Reuters, but you’re going to have to read the book yourself to fully understand the development of this list and what makes it completely believable.

Some of the Q&A sections should be required reading for journalism students. Joe Apprendi of Collective Media shares insights on what he thinks most publishers miss in thinking about digital content vs. print.  Wendy Warren of Philly.com discusses local journalism online and Nancy Shute of U.S. News & World Report talks about the new “gig” economy as it relates to journalists. All three offer great insights and there are many more that are equally insightful.

Newsonomics is an important book. It sheds light on a topic that is discussed at conferences all over the country. Whenever I attend such conferences, I am typically left quite frustrated,  but this book had the opposite effect. It’s like having something you can just hand a person to enlighten them (or shut them up) instead of arguing and I am grateful for that.

I’m not having this argument anymore. I’m just sending people to Ken Doctor. I wholeheartedly recommend this book. If you care about news, you will surely enjoy it.

Be sure to check out the book website, and follow Ken on Twitter.

Author’s note: I received a complimentary copy of Newsonomics from the publisher and in full disclosure, I am quoted on pages 123 and 124, in a Q&A format.

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