And if they do, I will be first in line to buy one…
An open letter to Apple, Steve Jobs and staff:
“…Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter…”
– Thomas Jefferson, 1787
As a former newspaper editor and photojournalist, I am increasingly worried about the sudden collapse of the newspaper industry across America during this sobering economic downturn. In Democratic societies, the free press, long referred to as the “Fourth Estate” for its essential role as an unofficial fourth branch, serves as a watchdog on the three other branches of American government: the executive, legislative and judiciary, as well as on society itself.
Sadly, we may be on the verge of a democratic society without the vibrant free press that Jefferson once described as so essential. Print journalism is failing — and it is an industry that is desperate for a modern delivery system.
I believe an affordable, 10-inch tablet iPod (the iTab if you will) might save professional journalism. A new generation of citizen journalists may fill some of the void being created, but a democratic nation needs trained, professional journalists as well.
Of all the media outlets, including television and radio, magazines and books, it has been printed, daily newspapers that have dominated this oversight role since 1776, largely due to their size, and (until now) the sheer number of local reporters, photographers, graphic artists and editors employed to produce and deliver the news. By comparison, local radio and television news outlets employ relatively skeletal staffs, and largely, can’t do much more than rewrite stories that appear in daily newspapers. Of course, there are many exceptions to this reality, but until recently, it is daily newspapers that have provided the real manpower that ensured the Fourth Estate’s oversight role in society.
As I watched a young couple buy a printed newspaper while in line at the grocery store the other day, I couldn’t help but think that all this is changing. With readership and subscriptions in decline, print advertisements collapsing and hundreds of news professionals being laid off nationwide, this industry is facing a crippling failure. Americans are losing a generation of reliable and essential professional journalists.
At the same time, we’re hearing scuttlebutt on a long-rumored new tablet product that may (or may not) be coming from Apple (I’m betting it is coming). Like the iPhone/iPod Touch, Amazon Kindle and to a lesser extent, Windows-based “netbooks” — a larger, tablet Mac could be the ground-breaking computing device that holds promise to save what’s left of the local news industry.
A low-priced tablet computer in a scaled-up, iPhone/iPod Touch form factor paired with appropriately designed news Web sites could be the “next Killer App” in computing — and the heir-apparent to desktop publishing and laser printing technology of the 1990′s. I like the name “iTab” because it fittingly combines the concept of the modern tablet computer with the traditional heritage of the crusading “tabloid” newspaper of a past era.
Interesting Open Letter…
Read the whole thing. Now not that I think newspapers will be in a position to subsidize this type of device. I mean newspapers are failing all over the U.S., but I think it may offer newspapers another option of getting the news out there in PRINT. My experience with the Kindle iPhone/iPod app demonstrates a world of possibilities. Microsoft and their OEMs have not had much luck with the Tablet concept, in fact I sold my HP, and another friend of mine, a Costa Rican Entrepreneur has had nothing but problems with his. An Apple engineered product:
Could prove to be a very compelling solution.
I always thought that Jobs made a huge mistake in discontinuing the Newton Product line, just when it was starting to show some promise. Apple’s inkwell technology, is far superior to what is available on the Windows side, and yet it is woefully underutilized using graphics tablets in my opinion. I spent $100 for one, and used it about three days before retiring it to my tech graveyard.
A Mac tablet is something I could get enthusiastic about, and perhaps might motivate Amazon to include a Kindle Reader for the Mac as well.