Posts tagged journalism
“ But there’s a big distinction between trending content and breaking news. While Twitter’s Turks will help bring much-needed context to the platform, they’re not journalists who verify whether something is true. As we’ve seen with the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and Superstorm Sandy, Twitter rumors ran rampant. Some rumors turned out to be true, but many were inaccurate or even malicious. Some were important, others were trivial.”
All of this would be so much clearer if we stopped using the word “journalism”.
Journalism is comprised of three distinct talents or activities: reporting, fact-checking, and editorial or storytelling. To understand how technology is affecting news you have to evaluate how technology impacts each of these activities.
Reporting is commoditized, especially with regard to Twitter. Everyone is a reporter. The first person on-site is never a “Journalist” but a local with a smartphone. Journalists should accept that reporting is now distributed, that we don’t need someone with a j-school degree in every location (at least at first), and that the rise of smartphones has won. You can’t out-cover Twitter and Instagram and it will cost you a too much to try. (Side note: there are no “citizen journalists”, just “citizen reporters”. It’s am important difference.)
Fact checking and editorial should be left to the pros. Breaking News is right that fact checking cannot be easily distributed. But it should be noted that the crowd is relied upon constantly for reporting (especially by Breaking News).
Journalism is great example of a job that might appear obsolete or commoditized, but in reality only a part of it is. If such distinctions aren’t recognized the baby will be inevitably thrown out with the bathwater.
“ 10 years ago, food writers with staff jobs were able to earn $80,000 to $150,000 a year, and freelancers were regularly paid $2 a word; today, these jobs barely exist… Online, $35,000 to $60,000 a year and $.25 to $.75 a word is more like it… And the real problem with these figures is that they’re static – you don’t start at $40,000 and work your way up to $80,000. You either happily stay at $40,000, or leave and let the next young, bright writer take your spot. This $40,000 also comes with many fewer perks – no expense accounts and little travel budget. In 1998, the New York Times sent me to France for two weeks to find some stories. Today, this would be unimaginable.”
A tale of over-supply, if there ever was one.
“ She then spent the next several minutes discussing Cosmo’s “brand extensions”— Cosmo Radio, Cosmo for Guys iPad app, books, e-books among them — and said, proudly, “My guess is we have the most number of the brand extensions in the company.”
This article about editors turning into brand managers is utterly depressing.
Media is evolving and cross-platform publishing is a must, but does the editor of Bon Appétit really need to be hawking branded cookware on HSN? Such behavior seems like a short-term monetization of the publication’s voice. Good luck with that. (Via WWD.com)
Pew Research’s Project for Excellence in Journalism just released “The Search for a New Business Model”, a new study “which combines detailed proprietary data from individual newspapers with in-depth interviews at more than a dozen major media companies” in order to understand how newspapers are digitally innovating or otherwise trying to stymie their rapidly disappearing print revenues.
It’s not pretty. Reading the report is like watching someone with a headwound fumble for tiny bandaids in the dark.
Here’s the narrative I walked away with:
- Digital revenues aren’t even close to covering print losses. For every $11 in print revenue, papers brought in $1 in digital revenue. Put a more depressing way: for every $1 gained in digital $7 are lost in print revenue.
- Newspapers don’t know how to sell digital advertising. Papers are barely selling targeted advertising. Instead, they choose (or only know how) to sell discrete display advertising campaigns. Such campaigns cannot scale to the scale of their audience and reduce the value of digital sales efforts by a factor or two.
- Newspapers are unable to hire digital talent. The majority of executives said it’s almost impossible to hire digitally fluent sales people, due to newspapers’ bad digital repuations. Further, even if they can hire digital talent they haven’t figured out how to integrate digital sales people with their traditional sales personnel.
- Newspapers don’t want to think about digital. A surveyed executive worries that they spend too much time working on digital, “We spend 90% of our time talking about 10% of our revenue.” A number of executives expressed concern that they have “too many people-whether it be in the newsroom, the boardroom or on the sales staff-who were too attached to the old way of doing things.”
Based on this report, I’d wager a large chunk of these businesses will die before they change.
Which would you rather be: a business with 100,000 print subscribers (which is the high-end of those surveyed) or a digital-only news startup with $100,000?
People aren’t going to Google wondering Are Republicans stupid? Are Democrats socialists? and searching for answers. They’re going, Johnson argues, to find affirmation. And media companies who cater to search traffic, who worship the pageview, will produce more media to satisfy that demand. Cheap, high-calorie, easy-to-manufacture media.
“ In all our stories, especially matters of controversy, we strive to consider the strongest arguments we can find on all sides, seeking to deliver both nuance and clarity. Our goal is not to please those whom we report on or to produce stories that create the appearance of balance, but to seek the truth.”
An important clarification.