The death of the newspaper industry in “a year or two”

Couple more nice pieces about the collapse of newspapers via the Backstage list:

Massive layoffs with no end in sight. Wave after wave of acquisitions and mergers fueled by the excesses of artificially cheap capital. Widespread fear that an entire industry and its contributions will stall or simply stop. This describes the news industry today, but it also described the high tech industry in the late eighties and early nineties. Read more…
There should have been a ten-year evolutionary process: the ecosystem steadily diversifying and establishing its complex relationships, the new business models evolving, the papers slowly transferring from print to digital, along with the advertisers. Instead, the financial meltdown – and some related over-leveraging by the newspaper companies themselves – has taken what should have been a decade-long process and crammed it down into a year or two. That is bad news for two reasons. First because it is going to inflict a lot of stress on people inside the industry who do great things, and who provide an important social good with their work. But it’s also bad news because it’s going to distract us from the long-term view; we’re going to spend so much time trying to figure out how to keep the old model on life support that we won’t be able to help invent a new model that actually might work better for everyone. Read more…

On the backstage list, the BBC has been proposed as a model for paying journalist’s wages, but it has been noted that there isn’t any other news organisation at the same scale anywhere else, ever. But I think there might be when the other large beehive organisations collapse in the depression, and popular support for the stomping jackboot evil emerges.

Anyway, to me, the solution for individuals looking to do journalism is, they get another job to keep the bills paid, learn how internet marketing really works (which ought not to be too hard for those already expert at writing), continue to do journalism about what they love, and work hard at being worth it.

They’ll have to accept that everyone else will call them a “blogger” “podcaster” or “video podcaster” or something else that fails to see past the media form to the actual activity, and will fail to pay the social dividend of “I work at Acme Media Corp.”

Plenty won’t like that social adjustment, and I expect they will also be the ones who have been recycling press releases instead of doing real investigation, and heaping scorn on their colleagues who were trying to keep up with the Internet. Like lawyers who got into law because they wanted to get rich, instead of believing in the rights of man, I won’t be sad to see them work another job and without continuing to do their “journalism.”

There have been plenty of professional bloggers during the last few years, and some were not lone individuals but small groups. Of all the ones I’ve paid for, my favourite was Gruber, who offered for money a full-text RSS feed with a T shirt. My hope is that we’ll get more stuff like MediaLens but outwards facing (who are also not traditionally funded, but who are indeed funded.)

My hope with the change is that we’ll get an answer to the questions MediaLens raise about the integrity of the profession.

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The The death of the newspaper industry in “a year or two” by David Crossland, except the quotations and unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.


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