Tim Porter: Newspapers as a culture of conservatism

As an industry, are newspapers and their online sites keeping up?
Tim Porter thinks not. He writes: Sometimes I feel as if I am pounding out the same message over and over to the point of harping: Newspapers have a destructive, risk-adverse culture that stifles change and initiative. Fix the culture and the rest will follow., He goes on to write about new research into newspaper culture done at The Readership Institute, and a Poynter essay by Skip Foster on newsroom culture.
At dinner one night this week Mary Hodder told me about a newspaper editor she met who seemed to think that sending reporters out on the street to do man on the street interviews was the same thing as having online interactivity, aka blogs, community publishing, forums, and track back. The man had no clue that finding appropriate ways to empower your audience might be an option
My own feeling is that newspapers–and the online sites they maintain–have unique relationships with local readers that they, in essence, don’t mine and develop in ways they should, much to their detriment. Although local content is the hardest thing to commoditize, newspapers are loath to exercise any community publishing, blogging, next generation message board groups that could help them solidify their unique position…and find some new ways to make money, as well.
Tim Porter, you’re calling it right.