Defining Journalism With A New Measuring Stick

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The Journalist Iconoclast brings up a very good point regarding the recent hits that the news world has taken.

And 2008 has already seen more than 15,000 jobs lost at U.S. newspapers. I believe 2009 will be a defining point in time for U.S. newspapers and not in a good way. Many promising young journalists and students are leaving journalism for other fields.

So, I have to ask: When this financial crisis is over, who will be left to rebuild journalism? Will there be enough talented journalists left to rebuild? Will the journalists left have the Web skills that journalism sorely needs?

This is interesting. One of the biggest issues not only I have had to face but young journalists in the field have is, sadly, money. Not everyone is making the big bucks and for thousands of journalists in small markets, sometime the pay at McDonald’s is enviable. There is a difference, however, on the future of journalism. News isn’t going away but at this period of time we are having to redefine where journalism will be delivered in the future.

The days of the natty fedora and banging out a story on a Royal typewriter are over and most likely was just a romantic stereotype anyway. The key elements, and one we will discuss here at NewsTechZilla often, is simple.

We are going to have to reinvent our skills by using new tools.

I don’t think that journalism will need to be rebuilt necessarily, but it will be defined with a new measuring stick which is yet to be determined. News is a passion for some folks and many journalists are going to keep reporting because it is as natural as breathing. News is also big business. For some communities, newspapers are the only way to get local news and I sometimes think that we forget that dynamic. That’s not going to change. Once again, it comes down to money. With the economy in the shape it is, businesses who are feeling the crunch are slashing their advertising budgets. Sales people are going to have to think outside of the box to keep their inches up but that is another post for another day.

But folks want the news that impacts their lives locally as well as nationally.

With that said, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that while the world of journalism goes through growing pains, it’s not going to be easy in 2009.

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2 Comments

  1. Vibinc said January 1, 2009 | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot, particularly as it relates to regional/local newspapers. How do these newspapers survive and thrive in an environment where so much of what we’ve come to view as “news” is freely available online, and the long held finance streams (classified ads, etc.) fall away?

    I don’t have a comprehensive answer for the financial streams, but as far a content goes, the focus has to be on providing unique content. Newspapers are increasingly unable to afford the AP, and, to my way of thinking, their reliance on the AP to fill column inches is part of the problem with decreasing readership. Readers can get the AP feed ANYWHERE. The answer is localizing the content to a degree far greater than in the past. This content has to both be deeper and wider than ever before. If newspapers provide comprehensive content unavailable anywhere else, more people will see the value of subscriptions and the eyeballs will come back. With that brings back some of the advertising revenue streams.

    I understand that it is expensive to pay larger reporting staffs, and that with many locales, tracking down the stories may be more of a challenge, but for most newspapers to survive they are going to have to make a big bet instead of playing defense by feverishly hanging on to long-held business models that are slowly fading away.

  2. Scotsman1228 said January 4, 2009 | Permalink

    You cannot get away from the fact that paying for good journalism costs money. Pay peanuts and you get . . .

    A good journalist with their hand on the pulse of the local community should know the courts, councils and whatever else is important in their locale. Then they should be able to get the indepth news stories.

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