Press must determine consumer wants and deliver on them

The newspaper industry needs to work out what people want and deliver on those needs and the reason why they have fallen on hard times is through their own mistakes, leading US writer and satirist and newspaper columnist Garrison Keillor said in an interview on RTE Radio.
Speaking to Myles Dungan on the Today show, Keillor, whose ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ show on Minnesota Public Radio is syndicated to stations worldwide, said he loved newspapers. But the fact is that the internet provided “a better mousetrap” and has resulted in a more informed citizen than in the days when people depended on newspapers.
New media has not been as transitory as newspapers as people leave things up on sites like You Tube. While it was felt that the internet being 24/7 would make everything move fast, it actually slowed things down. On the minus side, the net takes up a lot of time to find news stories.
Commenting on the rights and wrongs of ‘citizen journalism’, Keillor said the quality of writing on blogs was “wild and interesting” and was similar in vein to “old-fashioned, wild and carefree” writing. People go to bloggers for “amazing things”.
Keillor, who has referred to those on the far right of the political landscape in the US as “flannel-mouthed robots”, said some people on the far right feel pain that someone with the name Obama should be president and will go to great lengths to misrepresent him as being born in Kenya, rather than Hawaii, amid much hysteria.
On a visit to Ireland this week to deliver readings from ‘Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Oregon’ (2007) at the Kilkenny Arts Festival, Keillor provided the voice for the Honda ‘Power of Dreams’ TV campaign created by Wieden + Kennedy, including the multi award-winning ‘Cog’ commercial.
Asked for his opinion of the Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin from Alaska, he said: “I can’t make sense of her”. Keillor delivers his live monologues without a script. He doesn’t think it’s any great feat to look at people and talk to them about winter, or a person’s dog. If he wasn’t able to deliver monologues live, it would imply he was in the wrong job.
Brought up in a family of the strict Plymouth Brethren persuasion, he had been a Lutheran and was now an Episcopalian. He said he is plagued by guilt and regret. Anyone who grows up in a small town will “never lack from discouragement” and the attitude is ‘you can do better than this’, and that keeps people like him going. Now 67, Keillor has no plans to retire.

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