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Do newspapers have a future? Here's one half-baked idea

September 30, 2011 |  8:01 am

 Los Angeles times PM Final

The above picture is what newspapers used to be; the picture below is the future of newspapers.

Domino's artisan pizza 

On Thursday, the Onion posted this story:

"Congress Takes Group Of Schoolchildren Hostage"

'We Need $12 Trillion Or All These Kids Die'

Also on Thursday, the L.A. Times posted this story:

"Congress seals deal to fund government for a few more days."

The Onion's story, and accompanying tweets from the site, prompted Capitol police to look into the "incident."

Uh, yes, it was a fake story, though not everyone got the joke.

Still, when a real story like The Times' sounds almost as implausible, who can blame them?

Of course, this kind of thing isn't new.  More than 70 years ago, Orson Welles fooled a lot of people with a radio broadcast of a fictitious Martian invasion of Earth.

Radio then, the Internet today. Who can you trust?

It used to be people turned to newspapers.  But that's changing.

As Times media columnist James Rainey wrote this week:

Americans turn to their newspapers (and attendant websites) on more topics than any other local news source, according to a survey released this week by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. But, despite their own reading habits, more than two-thirds told pollsters that if their hometown paper disappeared, it would not seriously hurt their ability to keep up with the news.

Now, as someone who works at a major daily newspaper, you might think this would be upsetting news.

No daily newspaper, no daily newspaper jobs.  No more job, no more Ferrari.

But I'm not a complainer.  I'm forward-thinking.  I have a plan. 

And I got it from, well, OK, from reading the newspaper.

The Times' Business section ran this story Wednesday:

"Food products described as artisan go mainstream."

In the food world, "artisan" used to mean a meticulously handcrafted product, made in small batches.

No more.

This week, Domino's Pizza introduced its Artisan Pizza line at its nearly 5,000 outlets across the country. It joined the trend of major companies in describing products as artisan.

Wendy's has its Artisan Egg Sandwich, Ralphs markets offers Private Selection Artisan Breads and Starbucks sells Artisan Breakfast Sandwiches.

OK, so the article is about food.  But I was intrigued by this paragraph:

The term, from the Italian artigiano, was coined as far back as the 16th century to refer to a skilled craftsman who carved or otherwise hand-tooled an item.

Talk about a "eureka" moment.

It's the future of journalism.  We'll no longer be writers, ink-stained wretches -- we'll be artisans.

Everything we write will be hand-tooled, honed to a fine edge, polished until you can see yourself in it.  The Stradivariuses of the blogosphere.  (Or should that be Stradivarii? I'll look it up and repost later if I need to correct it.)  

You can laugh. You can sneer. You can post snarky comments. (C'mon, what do you want for free?)

But consider this from The Times' artisan story:

Domino's is on a roll lately — shares in the Ann Arbor, Mich., company have risen 80% this year, gaining 19 cents Tuesday to $28.80.

So if a savvy company like Domino's is on this bandwagon, count me in.

And if it doesn't work, there's always the Onion.

Oh, and by the way, I was kidding about the Ferrari.



On the Media: Delivering the news with 'Glee'

 U.S. spending billions to subsidize junk food, study says

The artisan: Bread baker Mark Stambler

--Paul Whitefield

Credit, top photo:  Los Angeles Times; credit, bottom photo: Jeff Padrick / Domino's


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