Save journalism?

What a busy week. Where did it all go? I know I’ve been very active on FriendFeed lately. You can see all the things I liked there (I like things to tell you I think they are interesting for you to read) or see all the things I’ve commented on. I’m about to pass 5,000 things since February that I’ve liked, lots of fun stuff there.

One thing that I’ve been thinking about all week is this discussion of how to save journalism. Any discussion on that topic that has Jay Rosen show up has got to be good (he’s a journalism professor at New York University, among other things). It’s a demonstration of what I love about FriendFeed. The marketers, the idiots, the trolls, the jerks haven’t moved in in a big way yet. Yeah, they are there, but the moderation of FriendFeed is distributed to the edges (moderation of comments is left to the person who starts a topic and everyone can block jerks and spammers from their view) so things are still pretty interesting conversation wise.

Anyway, join in and let us know if you see any other way to save journalism.

27 thoughts on “Save journalism?

  1. Video editing is a large part of journalism. Finding good software is the first step. Most journalism now has some visual aspect to it, and presenting that information in an appealing way is the easiest way to get people to pay attention to what you are saying.

  2. Video editing is a large part of journalism. Finding good software is the first step. Most journalism now has some visual aspect to it, and presenting that information in an appealing way is the easiest way to get people to pay attention to what you are saying.

  3. Wow – I totally forgot about that FF thread. I didn’t realize Jay showed up. He is one of the advisors to Spot.Us – as I worked for him as the first hire at NewAssignment.net

    Just to catch you up Robert: Spot.us has fundraised 43% for our second investigation: http://wiki.spot.us/election. All all through donations from members of the public. (http://wiki.spot.us/election).

    But – we are still in a pre-alpha mode (made that term up). The site won’t really be ready until October. I just decided it would be silly to sit on my hands until then and it would be smarter to just get started.

    Regarding the FriendFeed discussion: I think Scott Rosenbeg, who commented right after my last remark, hit it on the nose: Now is the time for experimentation and innovation. Just like startups in every field the vast majority won’t work – but the law of numbers says some of them will. Journalism is too important to just see it disappear. I don’t think it will either – journalism will survive the death of its institutions – but only if digital natives make it a priority.

  4. Wow – I totally forgot about that FF thread. I didn’t realize Jay showed up. He is one of the advisors to Spot.Us – as I worked for him as the first hire at NewAssignment.net

    Just to catch you up Robert: Spot.us has fundraised 43% for our second investigation: http://wiki.spot.us/election. All all through donations from members of the public. (http://wiki.spot.us/election).

    But – we are still in a pre-alpha mode (made that term up). The site won’t really be ready until October. I just decided it would be silly to sit on my hands until then and it would be smarter to just get started.

    Regarding the FriendFeed discussion: I think Scott Rosenbeg, who commented right after my last remark, hit it on the nose: Now is the time for experimentation and innovation. Just like startups in every field the vast majority won’t work – but the law of numbers says some of them will. Journalism is too important to just see it disappear. I don’t think it will either – journalism will survive the death of its institutions – but only if digital natives make it a priority.

  5. Looks like Ian is right on target. Great journalism will never die. Humanity wants to know what is going on and someone has to the tell “the story.”

    The medium by which the story is told is always changing. Who knows, one day we may have the “Borg” implants than connect us all together in a single conscious of nano-second, instant communications.

    Oh, by the way Robert, is it just my RSS reader (IE7) having a problem with your blog’s RSS feed? It shows a feed error in IE on your site. Other RSS feeds are working fine. I thought you were take a few days off since the feed didn’t show any new posts.

  6. Looks like Ian is right on target. Great journalism will never die. Humanity wants to know what is going on and someone has to the tell “the story.”

    The medium by which the story is told is always changing. Who knows, one day we may have the “Borg” implants than connect us all together in a single conscious of nano-second, instant communications.

    Oh, by the way Robert, is it just my RSS reader (IE7) having a problem with your blog’s RSS feed? It shows a feed error in IE on your site. Other RSS feeds are working fine. I thought you were take a few days off since the feed didn’t show any new posts.

  7. Newspapers and magazines supply MUCH more original content than the Web does.

    It takes a lot of time and money to produce real journalism. And much of what gets covered isn’t exciting stories that the reporters would choose to write about, but they go because that’s the job they are paid to do.

    Blogging is not an adequate replacement to journalism.

    Then again, journalism itself isn’t what it used to be. It’s been infected by bias. I think saving journalism has to start with understanding that you go gather the facts. Let the bloggers and other talking heads spin those facts. Reporters and editors should be as objective as possible, the way I learned to be back in journalism school in the late 70s.

    The reason I don’t read The Oregonian is because it’s too biased. The time has long since passed that readers need to rely on editors to tell us what to think. Get all the editorial stuff OUT of newspapers and they would do much better. Whether they lean left or lean right, they’re going to lose half their audience by being biased in this polarized climate that isn’t likely to change any time soon.

  8. Newspapers and magazines supply MUCH more original content than the Web does.

    It takes a lot of time and money to produce real journalism. And much of what gets covered isn’t exciting stories that the reporters would choose to write about, but they go because that’s the job they are paid to do.

    Blogging is not an adequate replacement to journalism.

    Then again, journalism itself isn’t what it used to be. It’s been infected by bias. I think saving journalism has to start with understanding that you go gather the facts. Let the bloggers and other talking heads spin those facts. Reporters and editors should be as objective as possible, the way I learned to be back in journalism school in the late 70s.

    The reason I don’t read The Oregonian is because it’s too biased. The time has long since passed that readers need to rely on editors to tell us what to think. Get all the editorial stuff OUT of newspapers and they would do much better. Whether they lean left or lean right, they’re going to lose half their audience by being biased in this polarized climate that isn’t likely to change any time soon.

  9. Journalism won’t die, just as information has survived. What is changing is the way journalism is use used to present new information and news. Even print news wont die but instead evolve into specialised high-premium media that bring in high-quality content and indepth analysis. The web will only be an extension of the revenue model, and so will other online models such as electronic billboards (yes, you can stream news snippets into that) or point-of-sale electronic displays. Journalism will have to evolve and journalists will have to change, too, adopt new skills of presenting their subjects of interest across a multitude of platforms.

  10. Journalism won’t die, just as information has survived. What is changing is the way journalism is use used to present new information and news. Even print news wont die but instead evolve into specialised high-premium media that bring in high-quality content and indepth analysis. The web will only be an extension of the revenue model, and so will other online models such as electronic billboards (yes, you can stream news snippets into that) or point-of-sale electronic displays. Journalism will have to evolve and journalists will have to change, too, adopt new skills of presenting their subjects of interest across a multitude of platforms.

  11. Ian, that’s a great comment. I never really made the connection that a newspaper is simply the print version of a news aggregator until you pointed it out. Now that aggregation is basically free on the web, it’s not surprising that the publications that do not have original content and were relying on classifieds to save them are dying.

  12. Ian, that’s a great comment. I never really made the connection that a newspaper is simply the print version of a news aggregator until you pointed it out. Now that aggregation is basically free on the web, it’s not surprising that the publications that do not have original content and were relying on classifieds to save them are dying.

  13. But to recap a little… journalism won’t die, because at the end of the day quality work which people want to read will attract an audience, and an audience is valuable to advertisers.

    What dies is “journalism” as aggregation, or rehashing, or other stuff which isn’t actually really original work.

  14. But to recap a little… journalism won’t die, because at the end of the day quality work which people want to read will attract an audience, and an audience is valuable to advertisers.

    What dies is “journalism” as aggregation, or rehashing, or other stuff which isn’t actually really original work.

  15. Robert, I see your point, but I’d argue that what we’re talking about is really two different things: journalism, and printed classified advertising.

    For a lot of papers which relied on classified revenue, the “journalism” was often of secondary importance: people actually bought the paper for the classifieds as much as the news. In that sense, the important content was the ads, not the stories. This, of course, includes all those “announcements” of weddings, births, marriages etc that papers carry – it’s all content.

    Many of the news stories, on the other hand, were rehashed AP stuff, or trivialities which were covered better on local TV news. The news section was, mostly, an aggregation of content which could actually be found elsewhere. At best, 20% of it was original: at worst… well, a lot less. With some local papers you’d struggle to find a story you hadn’t seen elsewhere.

    So it’s not surprising that with the content people really valued – the classifieds – now available elsewhere for nothing, people stop buying the papers.

    I don’t think those kinds of papers will survive, because they’re in the business of distributing classified ads, not of doing journalism. They could, of course, invest in creating original content which people actually want to buy and funding that through grabbing a bigger slice of display advertising: but that’s hard, and takes balls, and I don’t think many of them will do it.

  16. Robert, I see your point, but I’d argue that what we’re talking about is really two different things: journalism, and printed classified advertising.

    For a lot of papers which relied on classified revenue, the “journalism” was often of secondary importance: people actually bought the paper for the classifieds as much as the news. In that sense, the important content was the ads, not the stories. This, of course, includes all those “announcements” of weddings, births, marriages etc that papers carry – it’s all content.

    Many of the news stories, on the other hand, were rehashed AP stuff, or trivialities which were covered better on local TV news. The news section was, mostly, an aggregation of content which could actually be found elsewhere. At best, 20% of it was original: at worst… well, a lot less. With some local papers you’d struggle to find a story you hadn’t seen elsewhere.

    So it’s not surprising that with the content people really valued – the classifieds – now available elsewhere for nothing, people stop buying the papers.

    I don’t think those kinds of papers will survive, because they’re in the business of distributing classified ads, not of doing journalism. They could, of course, invest in creating original content which people actually want to buy and funding that through grabbing a bigger slice of display advertising: but that’s hard, and takes balls, and I don’t think many of them will do it.

  17. Ian: quality doesn’t save you when your business models get disrupted. Most newspapers used to have classified ads that brought in huge amounts of revenues. Now those are gone. Now display ad money is moving from print onto the Web. Why? Efficiency and reader behavior. I will never subscribe to a newspaper again. So if advertisers want to reach me they’ve gotta come online. Either way, though, journalism’s business model is changing/being disrupted. Paying for journalism isn’t easy in this new world.

  18. Ian: quality doesn’t save you when your business models get disrupted. Most newspapers used to have classified ads that brought in huge amounts of revenues. Now those are gone. Now display ad money is moving from print onto the Web. Why? Efficiency and reader behavior. I will never subscribe to a newspaper again. So if advertisers want to reach me they’ve gotta come online. Either way, though, journalism’s business model is changing/being disrupted. Paying for journalism isn’t easy in this new world.

  19. In a word: quality. It’s notable that companies which have concentrated on creating high quality products make lots of money, no matter what medium. The best example of this is The Economist, which is making money hand over fist, increasing (print) circulation, increasing web traffic, and increasing both print and advertising revenues. How? By producing better quality content than anyone else.

    It’s hard to do, it’s not whizzy-social-media-glam, and it takes investment (not job cuts) – but if you want a model of how to save journalism, it’s better than anything else out there.

  20. Journalism. It costs money and the business models are still being rebuilt. Newspapers used to have classified ads. That business has all but disappeared.

  21. In a word: quality. It’s notable that companies which have concentrated on creating high quality products make lots of money, no matter what medium. The best example of this is The Economist, which is making money hand over fist, increasing (print) circulation, increasing web traffic, and increasing both print and advertising revenues. How? By producing better quality content than anyone else.

    It’s hard to do, it’s not whizzy-social-media-glam, and it takes investment (not job cuts) – but if you want a model of how to save journalism, it’s better than anything else out there.

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