Media Outlets VS Journalists or Why We Don’t Need To Save The Newspapers

For several years now, we’ve seen many traditional media outlet either close or be very close to closing. From newspapers to trade magazines to even television stations, it’s obvious that the Internet and technology in general have been changing the way media works. That’s nothing new and it’s not news either.

When talking about this, one thing you often hear is that as cool and fun the Internet is, we need the traditional media because we need the journalistic integrity and ethics we associate with them. The problem with a statement like this is that it confuses the media outlets and the journalists themselves. Why care about those old media outlets? They’re old, they’re using an outdated way of bringing us the news and they’re way to costly to operate.We *do* need the journalists themselves however. People who, unlike bloggers and tweeters, will go the extra mile and research the story and hopefully present it in a neutral way. There’s one example of a local daily newspaper here in Montreal that I want to use as an example.

Because of a strike/Lock-Out, the journalists of the “Journal de MontrĂ©al” have been doing their own thing on a Web Site they started themselves. The result ? The same quality of journalism by the same people. I don’t know if they are making a lot of money with it, but even though it’s basically a “while we’re not at work” operation, they have done a fairly good job of getting their brand out there and by the look of it, they seem to be getting good numbers.

In a world where newspapers are closing left and right, it’s great to see a good journalists band together and make something happen. I hope they do get good numbers and simply leave the newspaper altogether. They’re using Twitter and their site to promote themselves and while they certainly could do better with regards to new media, they’ve been doing a lot better than their old newspaper is.

One thing to keep in mind is that what really matters is the content, not the container. Saving the containers (the newspapers) is not what we need. The content (and of course, the content producers) should be our focus. With Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Vimeo, UStream and Qik, we have more than enough container to accommodate everyone.

In The Browser War, We All Win

If you’ve been around the Web development business for about 11+ years as I have, you will no doubt remember all the steps we’ve been through in the “browser war”. Remember how much better Netscape 3.x was compared to Internet Explorer 3? Or how truly attrocious Netscape 4 was once IE4 was released? Back in the Netscape VS IE days, web standards weren’t quite as established and prominent and with each release came new non-standard HTML tags. Good old Marquee tag. Remember the Layer tag? Each new release brought new headaches for developers trying to figure out compatibility between releases.

These days, the browser war is quite different. Ever since the rise to prominence of Firefox several years ago, we’ve seen what basically amounts to 3 important Web rendering engines: IE, Gecko and Webkit. With IE 9 coming sooner or later, IE finally seems to be catching up a little, although it’s too bad Microsoft still won’t adopt one of the other 2 engines and simply build IE around it.

Last week, news came out that for the first time, Google Chrome had surpassed Safari in Market share.While they may be newsworthy in itself, the much bigger news in my opinion is that combined, Safari and Chrome have about 10% market share. Since both use the Webkit engine, it’s a great news for both parties. At the end of the day, who controls the frame around the HTML renderer doesn’t impact us much. The really crucial bit is the renderer itself and Chrome’s popularity only helps here.

Apple has been the main driver behind Webkit ever since its release (as a port of the Konqueror engine) several years ago but Google’s participation has been increasing along with its own usage of the engine for the Chrome browser. With HTML5 and CSS3 still not completely implemented, it’s great to see 2 giants working together on that aspect. As much as Google and Apple might be competing these days, both of their phones are using the same HTML rendering engine and it’s a great example of how open source can sometime help. With the Web, what we need is a standard compliance, not a bunch of smaller rendering engines that each have their own bugs and features.

As for Javascript, each player has its own engine. Google’s V8 engine is extremely fast but Safari’s engine is not slouch either. Firefox is also making advances here but since Javascript has been fairly stable, multiple engines aren’t hurting us at all. While these 3 battle for speed, we reap the rewards.

At the end of the day, we all win. Let the war continue and let’s hope that Microsoft will at some point ditch its own engine and pick of the open source ones. Google and Apple have proven that you can compete and still share the headaches and costs associated with developing a complex rendering engine.