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Gates, the Sulzbergers and Future of Newspapers

The photo today in The New York Times of Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, and Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of The Times, tells us a lot about the future of newspapers.

They were at the American Society of Newspaper Editors annual meeting, according to a Times story, to unveil software ” that would allow readers to download an electronic version of the newspaper and view it on a portable device.”

It adds:

Mr. Sulzberger said the software combined the portability of the print paper with the immediacy of the Internet. Readers can in effect turn the page electronically.

The photo and the story got me thinking about another story about Sulzberger’s son, Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, who has been apprenticing first at the Providence Journal and now is on his way to the Oregonian. I know in the past that was the way to go. But if I were the New York Times, I would pony up a few million dollars, and tell young Arthur or one of the other young family members to gather together the best and brightest minds in the Internet world and try to reinvent journalism. Start experimenting, learn how these young innovators work.

Would they produce the next kind of journalism, probably not. But from whom would young Arthur learn more; from the young talents looking to the new possibilities or to stodgy newsroom editors looking how to cut corners.

Photo credit: Mytam Nguyen/ASNE Reporter

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