Journalism matters, Mark Cuban says

Mark Cuban tells journalism companies how they can get audiences. Hey, Mark, that isn't the problem in journalism. The problem is how do you pay for great journalism?

We're seeing lots of journalists getting laid off. Why? Because the business no longer works. The advertisers are taking their money and moving online. Paying Google and Yahoo and Microsoft and Craigs List and Ebay to do the work that the newspaper ads used to do.

Free journalism only takes us so far. Yeah, using bloggers you'll find out about major news events like earthquakes and fires and when your neighbor gets murdered. Maybe. If there's a blogger nearby who cares.

But you won't get the kind of journalism that local papers used to do. Are there any bloggers out here that sit in city council meetings? That attend shareholder meetings? That build relationships with people at places of power? Yeah, some do, but they are still pretty rare and as Tim O'Reilly learned most of us aren't really here to do journalistic work, but rather to tell the world what we think (the two are different).

I wish I had better answers, though, cause I do agree with Mark Cuban that journalism is important.

Speaking of that, I appreciate it when a publication takes 500 hours and puts our products through its paces like what Tom's Hardware did recently with Windows Vista. Or, ComputerWorld's 20 Things You Won't Like about Windows Vista. Ed Bott pointed me to those. I might not agree with all of the points made there, but I do appreciate that journalists are putting in some serious work taking a look at our products.

I wonder how we can ensure that journalists can continue to get paid for that work?

Carlo goes further and says "Journalism Is Broken." Oh, I agree with his point that opinion matters. I've learned over and over that my audience is smarter than me. Richer than me. More knowledgeable than me. More connected than me. No matter what I say, no matter how well researched it is, it always gets better after an audience hears it and can leave their two cents about it.

Jeff and I were talking about that today. He told me how he learns from the people who show up on Channel 9 and On10.net everyday and how he thinks that any corporate site that doesn't have comments, trackbacks, or ways to interact like a Wiki are just blowing it.

I agree. Where's the newspaper that has open comments on every story like we do on Channel 9 or On10?

Comments

  1. It makes a change to see someone defending journalism against the craze for blogging. There’s not much here to disagree with, especially the observation that most bloggers “aren’t really here to do journalistic work, but rather to tell the world what we think (the two are different)”.

    There’s another thing that is missing from blogdom, decent editing of the copy.

    I have been watching one – the people are paid to do it – where I have no doubt that the writers could just about come up to the required standards of journalism, they don’t because they do not have a news editor asking awkward questions and a subeditor, probably something that you’d call a copy editor, knocking articles into shape.

    Just as eliminating spelling errors and getting grammar right differentiates professional magazines from amateur fanzines, the same attention to detail separates the blogging sheep from the journalistic goats.

    Like journalism, you get what you pay for when it comes to editing.

  2. It makes a change to see someone defending journalism against the craze for blogging. There’s not much here to disagree with, especially the observation that most bloggers “aren’t really here to do journalistic work, but rather to tell the world what we think (the two are different)”.

    There’s another thing that is missing from blogdom, decent editing of the copy.

    I have been watching one – the people are paid to do it – where I have no doubt that the writers could just about come up to the required standards of journalism, they don’t because they do not have a news editor asking awkward questions and a subeditor, probably something that you’d call a copy editor, knocking articles into shape.

    Just as eliminating spelling errors and getting grammar right differentiates professional magazines from amateur fanzines, the same attention to detail separates the blogging sheep from the journalistic goats.

    Like journalism, you get what you pay for when it comes to editing.

  3. Thank you for your well thought out response to the blogging vs. traditional journalism discussion that has been popping up over the last few years. I’m a journalist for a small daily newspaper in Minnesota and we’re seeing the effects of online advertising.

    One thing that has really made an impact is Newspaper themselves moving to an online model. In addition to our print edition, like most papers, we have an online edition. This version of the paper has nearly all the content as the hard copy but it’s free. The archive only goes back 10 days.

    Because of this model, we’re almost shooting ourselves in the foot. Many of my own sources read the paper online and do not subscribe. Why should they? We’re giving them the same content (and in some cases more) then what they get delivered to their door every morning.

  4. Thank you for your well thought out response to the blogging vs. traditional journalism discussion that has been popping up over the last few years. I’m a journalist for a small daily newspaper in Minnesota and we’re seeing the effects of online advertising.

    One thing that has really made an impact is Newspaper themselves moving to an online model. In addition to our print edition, like most papers, we have an online edition. This version of the paper has nearly all the content as the hard copy but it’s free. The archive only goes back 10 days.

    Because of this model, we’re almost shooting ourselves in the foot. Many of my own sources read the paper online and do not subscribe. Why should they? We’re giving them the same content (and in some cases more) then what they get delivered to their door every morning.

  5. The value of journalism need not be dismissed so easily. I think traditional print media needs to change their content and pricing model a bit particularly in underserved markets. For example, I live outside LA and the dominent LA based media (TV, radio, print) rarely cover any local news. That’s a problem when I want to know what’s happening in my area. I am finding my local newspaper’s online version an intriguing alternative. The online paper provides continous updates on breaking news include photos and the occasional audio and video. No, I do not subscribe for it is free online, but I would pay if enough regional coverage is provided that can not be obtained elsewhere. They also allow online comments for all local stories.

  6. The value of journalism need not be dismissed so easily. I think traditional print media needs to change their content and pricing model a bit particularly in underserved markets. For example, I live outside LA and the dominent LA based media (TV, radio, print) rarely cover any local news. That’s a problem when I want to know what’s happening in my area. I am finding my local newspaper’s online version an intriguing alternative. The online paper provides continous updates on breaking news include photos and the occasional audio and video. No, I do not subscribe for it is free online, but I would pay if enough regional coverage is provided that can not be obtained elsewhere. They also allow online comments for all local stories.

  7. @3 Ain’t that the truth! I wonder if the L.A. Times shouldn’t change their masthead model to “If it’s Happening in Los Angeles, it’s News to Us!”

    As far as Cuban goes, yea journalism matters as long as it is accurate and unbiased. Alas, we aren’t there yet.

  8. @3 Ain’t that the truth! I wonder if the L.A. Times shouldn’t change their masthead model to “If it’s Happening in Los Angeles, it’s News to Us!”

    As far as Cuban goes, yea journalism matters as long as it is accurate and unbiased. Alas, we aren’t there yet.

  9. Journalism matters yes, and oh hey, Police and Fire Depts. matter too, as does clean air, water and a working method of transportation, and then decent government, shelter, working software and good nutrition.

    So much blather for what should be default common sense, of course Journalism matters, why do bloggers have to keep stating the dead obvious. Hey, the sky is blue.

  10. Journalism matters yes, and oh hey, Police and Fire Depts. matter too, as does clean air, water and a working method of transportation, and then decent government, shelter, working software and good nutrition.

    So much blather for what should be default common sense, of course Journalism matters, why do bloggers have to keep stating the dead obvious. Hey, the sky is blue.

  11. As for ads, there’s still a HUGE section of the population that are called baby boomers… you know…the ones with all the money?.. that still prefer getting their ads “the old fashioned way”… coupons in the Sunday paper and Wednesday grocery ads. While some advertising dollars may be moving to the “internet” I think we are a long long way from the majority population preferring that method of delivery.

    Once GenX’er and the like start making money, then we’ll see more of a shift.

  12. As for ads, there’s still a HUGE section of the population that are called baby boomers… you know…the ones with all the money?.. that still prefer getting their ads “the old fashioned way”… coupons in the Sunday paper and Wednesday grocery ads. While some advertising dollars may be moving to the “internet” I think we are a long long way from the majority population preferring that method of delivery.

    Once GenX’er and the like start making money, then we’ll see more of a shift.

  13. I think Mark is referring to paying audiences (i.e. subscribers), and paying audiences for journalism are shrinking, which leads to the layoff of journalists.

  14. I think Mark is referring to paying audiences (i.e. subscribers), and paying audiences for journalism are shrinking, which leads to the layoff of journalists.

  15. Bloggers sometimes get their information from traditonal jounals, or Feeds…. then BLOG about it…

    In other examples, some may work for or have an investment in a particular company and may be biased towards the information they are presenting

    There will always be room in society for Unbiased, Sophisticated Journalists.

    However, no profession is a panacea, bloggers are needed to fill the important void for immediacy and independance from Large Advertisers and confined Corporate structures.

    Ultimately, there will probably be an established balance that compensates for eachothers’ weaknesses.

  16. Bloggers sometimes get their information from traditonal jounals, or Feeds…. then BLOG about it…

    In other examples, some may work for or have an investment in a particular company and may be biased towards the information they are presenting

    There will always be room in society for Unbiased, Sophisticated Journalists.

    However, no profession is a panacea, bloggers are needed to fill the important void for immediacy and independance from Large Advertisers and confined Corporate structures.

    Ultimately, there will probably be an established balance that compensates for eachothers’ weaknesses.

  17. The Guardian does a pretty good job, even though they haven’t got their minds quite around the whole blog idea. They do try. But I believe the Globe and Mail allows comments to every story they post. It’s interesting to watch, although it’s annoying having to remember eighty billion different passwords.

    There will always be a need for classic journalism, but its rigidity and the way everything BUT bare-bones journalism and pandering has been eliminated in the quest for dollars means that for anything with style, anything different, anything at all outside the mainstream, we have to go outside mainstream journalism. I know there are many journalists who can write and think better than they’re allowed to do at work, but there’s no place for it in their paper.

  18. The Guardian does a pretty good job, even though they haven’t got their minds quite around the whole blog idea. They do try. But I believe the Globe and Mail allows comments to every story they post. It’s interesting to watch, although it’s annoying having to remember eighty billion different passwords.

    There will always be a need for classic journalism, but its rigidity and the way everything BUT bare-bones journalism and pandering has been eliminated in the quest for dollars means that for anything with style, anything different, anything at all outside the mainstream, we have to go outside mainstream journalism. I know there are many journalists who can write and think better than they’re allowed to do at work, but there’s no place for it in their paper.

  19. Your point that there aren’t many bloggers out there that sit in city council meetings is a very important one.

    Pre-blogosphere, I was involved in launching a new weekly newspaper in an under-served market. We were deluged with offers from local residents offering to write restaurant reviews, opinion pieces, travel articles and features on subjects related to their areas of business. We could easily have filled the pages many times over with the contributions of these early citizen journalists.

    But a newspaper, online or off, can’t live on this kind of contribution alone. When we asked our volunteers to get involved in covering hard news stories, their enthusiasm fast disappeared. Even though we were offering to pay. To get city council meetings covered, we hired professional journalists. And we paid them in cold hard cash.

  20. Your point that there aren’t many bloggers out there that sit in city council meetings is a very important one.

    Pre-blogosphere, I was involved in launching a new weekly newspaper in an under-served market. We were deluged with offers from local residents offering to write restaurant reviews, opinion pieces, travel articles and features on subjects related to their areas of business. We could easily have filled the pages many times over with the contributions of these early citizen journalists.

    But a newspaper, online or off, can’t live on this kind of contribution alone. When we asked our volunteers to get involved in covering hard news stories, their enthusiasm fast disappeared. Even though we were offering to pay. To get city council meetings covered, we hired professional journalists. And we paid them in cold hard cash.