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A dying medium: newspapers

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No, it doesn't have to be profitable.  Some newspapers and other publications are underwritten or have trust funds.  The Guardian in England is funded in part by a huge trust fund.  Soapbox in Cincinnati is almost surely not profitable, and they are paying people well, because they are in part funded by big money (sorry, I don't have the details).

 

A group of professionals could approach wealthy patrons to run a professional news website.  Artists and cultural organizations do this all the time, and of course there is PBS and NPR.     

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The Chagrin Sun is a vital part of my weekly reading. It only takes me about 10 minutes to rip through it usually, but I get updates on the local politics (which do interest me) and the hyper local articles. It serves to keep me in the loop with my community. There remains a need for this type of local paper, I think.

 

Regarding a grander internet strategy for regional papers. Connie, who I rarely agree with, is right in this regard. The paper puts effort and resources into generating a story, and should be entitled to the exclusive rights to that story for at least the first 24 hours. I like the idea of multiple regional agencies pooling resources for a subscriber base...not to charge user subscriptions but to develop a scale in usership / eyeballs to the consolidated sight to drive up ad revenue. Subscribers will register, so that the news agencies can get a count as to how many subscriptons they have, but registering is free, perhaps subject to a quick survey on cursory demographics. That info can be pooled and used to market to advertisers.

 

What do you think? Either that, or like I've said before...everyone uses a Kindle  :lol:

 

either way, you eliminate a key cost component: the printing and distribution of paper.

 

Well, i know the NYTimes requires a free registration that accomplishes what they need in terms of demographics and lets them count their views.  I think that's a pretty decent system.  Of course, on line ad revenue is never going to add up to what the print is.  Craig's list and other classified sites have taken the bread and butter away.

 

People have mentioned a government subsidy to the newspapers when one already exists...requiring legal ads to be run in the paper of record.  That's a crazy amount of revenue for them and at this point it's really a stupid requirement.  Why should a school board be required to post their meetings in the paper when they can post them online on their own website for free?

 

I love newspapers and i'm sad to see them going...but they need to embrace the change sooner rather than later or they really will die.

 

One issue i've seen brought up, but don't really know much about...is the idea that successful papers are sometimes hurt because their parent company is not doing so well.  Is that true?

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No, it doesn't have to be profitable.  Some newspapers and other publications are underwritten or have trust funds.  The Guardian in England is funded in part by a huge trust fund.  Soapbox in Cincinnati is almost surely not profitable, and they are paying people well, because they are in part funded by big money (sorry, I don't have the details).

 

A group of professionals could approach wealthy patrons to run a professional news website.  Artists and cultural organizations do this all the time, and of course there is PBS and NPR.     

 

how very socialist of you.  :-P

 

I hope that we could do one of those things, but i don't see papers in every market finding patrons and i don't know that the Government should get involved.  Could it go with a wikipedia type funding model? maybe.  I hope these papers survive because i think that they are a necessary part of our democracy.

 

It's hard to talk about "newspapers" because i think that the "paper" part of it is becoming obsolete (sadly, i like getting my paper in the morning and i like the smell of newsprint etc.)

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One issue i've seen brought up, but don't really know much about...is the idea that successful papers are sometimes hurt because their parent company is not doing so well. Is that true?

 

Yes. Buyers of newspaper chains often take on so much debt that they need to cuts costs at the papers not to make them viable, but to pay off debt.

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Newspapers like The Enquirer are one giant compromise because they're the only thing going.  NYC has four major dailies, allowing each of them to carve a distinct niche.  NY Times and Wall St. Journal are more national and have weak sports coverage; The NY Post & Daily News are more local and have big-time sports coverage. 

 

Do the math -- if you cut out crime & courts reporting and sports, 30 original pieces per week (combination of news and opinion) is a lot to read. Direct link it with urban ohio for discussion and it's a solid setup. TV does crime & sports better anyway, and online sports reporting is going to be taken over by team websites.

 

Also, nobody gives a damn about suburban community festivals, suburban school levies, and the crap that the Enquirer fills its pages with. 

 

 

This comment hits on the problem. It would be suicide for a newspaper to cut out crime news and sports. It would be equally fatal to ignore local festivals and school news.

 

Likewise, it would be fatal to focus on those things at the expense of national issues, or opinion pages, or local "hard news" -- depending on how you define "hard news."

 

The problem is that newspapers have traditionally been a mass medium, covering everything and letting readers pick and choose what they read. Online news tends to be targeted to particular interests or demographics.

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^ Agreed. McClatchy is hurting because they took on all of Knight-Ridder's debt. Sam Zell bought the Tribune Company and is having to sell the Cubs in order to pay off the company's debt, and the Trib is still going through multiple rounds of layoffs in the newsroom. I'm not sure of the particulars in Gannett's situation, but I'm sure it's a similar story.

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This is a problem with the mega-corporations that now run the show. Very few independent news outlets exist in the United States, and some that do are still actually profitable. What happens when the mega-corporation buys out papers and TV stations is that even if that local entity is profitable, they still can be hit with layoffs due to the parent company running in the red.

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there was a study (posted here? i can't remember) about how voter participation dropped after local papers folded...i want to say it was about Northern Kentucky and the Post...but i can't remember.  That hyper local coverage is important and i think it's really the future of newspapers.  All the national stuff and sports stuff is covered to death by big media (NYTimes, ESPN, CNN, MSNBC, etc) so the small stuff is what needs to be focused on.

I'm not saying that fewer people voting is a good thing.  But who is most likely to stop voting if news isn't fed to them -- people who make instinctive decisions based on slanted editorials and rehashed crime statistics, or people who go out of their way to thoroughly research issues?  Maybe what I'm implying -- that the citizens less educated on particular issues would be the ones more likely to stop voting -- is not actually the case, because special interest groups on both sides of an issue market their POV directly to the public.

 

There was some talk recently of giving newspapers non-profit status.  I don't especially like that idea, but I could see a situation being created similar to NPR and PBS.  Corporation for Public Broadcasting is already doing investigative reporting on TV and radio via those two outlets.  Perhaps they could get into the print/internet news world as well?

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Papers in cities like Cincinnati are slaves to the auto landscape.  Car-related advertising was a *huge* boon for newspapers, and rose just as TV took away department store advertising.  New cars, used cars, car parts, etc. in the classified section and full and half-page dealer ads.  The national editions of the NY Times and obviously USA Today do not have the benefit of the classified or dealer car ads. 

 

Craigslist decimated classified advertisements, including used cars, leaving only the big dealer ads.  Now is something like The Enquirer going to put huge support behind a comprehensive regional transit system like the Washington Metro?  Something that would cut even deeper in to automobile ad revenue? 

 

 

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Is the Enquirer worth saving if they are not going to report the news fairly?

 

(sort of a rhetorical question since we're talking about the Enquirer)

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Papers in cities like Cincinnati are slaves to the auto landscape. Car-related advertising was a *huge* boon for newspapers, and rose just as TV took away department store advertising. New cars, used cars, car parts, etc. in the classified section and full and half-page dealer ads. The national editions of the NY Times and obviously USA Today do not have the benefit of the classified or dealer car ads.

 

Craigslist decimated classified advertisements, including used cars, leaving only the big dealer ads. Now is something like The Enquirer going to put huge support behind a comprehensive regional transit system like the Washington Metro? Something that would cut even deeper in to automobile ad revenue?  

 

 

 

I spent 25 years as a news reporter with 10 news organizations in three U.S. states and one foreign country, and I never saw that kind of pressure to protect a group of advertisers and slant coverage. Reporters would revolt. To imply that editors could effectively have that kind of impact on the tone of coverage over time and have that clear of a reason for doing so is to imply that editors know what's going on. And that's giving them too much credit.

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And I do agree that news today is hollow shell of what it once was. We are in an era of declining journalism, no question about it. With garbage, half-assed tabloid trash like 24/7 cable news, there is no hope for the United States to ever be a well-informed populace again. And keep in mind only the big public boys in the past ever even attempted to limit their bias. Journalism ethics went out the window a long time ago due to the simple fact that hardly anyone gets paid sh!t in this industry. It's sometimes just the whole "don't get paid enough to care" thing. Smart people don't work in the news industry anymore due to the sacrifice of friends/family, and then there's the life in poverty, etc. Journalists and reporters would make more money waiting tables or bartending (bartending > every job today in America), and be far happier people (don't discount the cynical, gallows humor nature of the industry either). Today, every TV station, every paper, and every website is biased, whether the people working there know it or not. I'd argue the websites are the least impartial of all. I love the Huffington Post, but c'mon, it's open bias and "fun journalism", not reliable everyday news coverage. I get disgusted every time I have to see a "John and Kate Plus Eight" story. Sorry, let the tabloids deal with the tabloid trash (not that there's anything wrong with tabloids- they pay better). The tabloid influence is perhaps more damaging than bias or anything else. We waste valuable time on stories that just aren't important or relevant to our markets.

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To imply that editors could effectively have that kind of impact on the tone of coverage over time and have that clear of a reason for doing so is to imply that editors know what's going on. And that's giving them too much credit.

 

Haha, somewhat true. The thing about bias though is that the most biased people are usually unaware of it. They literally don't know any better.

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As to the Enquirer - my prediction is that it will eventually end in combination with the Dayton Daily News - either Gannet will sell off the Enq. to Cox or vice versa - as the regions combine and supposedly the DDN has been kicking the Enquirer's butt in the northern suburbs for awhile their combination will be the only way to keep one alive.

 

As a historian, my worry is that we lack a basic narrative of a city's history that will valued enough to be held onto for decades and centuries to come. In the moment, I can see the benefits of a hybrid system that is a little TV news, a little traditional newspaper, a little quality blog content, and probably a twitter-esque feed. Someone has to bring it together and I could see a local TV station doing it as well. It looked like WCPO might pick up a bit of the slack that the loss of the Post created, but the collapse of the ad market has hamstrung local TV news as much as it has newspapers.

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^ i'm not nearly as cynical as you are about the populace.  These things go in cycles.  People talk about the golden age of journalism and forget that it was run by men with incredible agendas and used their newspapers to promote their slanted views on life.

 

One positive about some of the blogs is that if we are able to get some sort of aggregater to bring them together and allow certain bloggers to develop reputations based on the trustworthiness of their posts we might be moving along the lines of successfully reinventing the news.  Unfortunately it will take time for the next medium to come to maturity and in that time we will be in a mini-dark ages sort of news climate.

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If you think old newspapers were well-written, you haven't spent much time reading microfilm.  I've perused a lot of old Enquirer, Post, Times-Star, and Post-Times Star microfilm rolls -- probably close to 100 months of microfilm.  Things were typically covered in a very broad and "cute" style.  Pieces of wire copy can be excellent, but local reporting in the second-tier cities was never and is never going to be the quality of the biggest cities.  The advertising was trite and thrown together.     

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Agreed, though the Commercial was a big city quality broadsheet, sadly it was swallowed by the Enquirer. I'd say the density of coverage in papers like the Catholic Telegraph and American Israelite is awe-inspiring compared to their current descendants and to the local dailies.

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One positive about some of the blogs is that if we are able to get some sort of aggregater to bring them together and allow certain bloggers to develop reputations based on the trustworthiness of their posts we might be moving along the lines of successfully reinventing the news. Unfortunately it will take time for the next medium to come to maturity and in that time we will be in a mini-dark ages sort of news climate.

 

A lot of the comments here criticize newspapers for living in the past and not embracing the Web. But the fact is, newspapers have had an online presence as long as anybody. But they have not figured out a way to make it profitable and authoritative. Nor have the bloggers.

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^ i'm not nearly as cynical as you are about the populace.  These things go in cycles.  People talk about the golden age of journalism and forget that it was run by men with incredible agendas and used their newspapers to promote their slanted views on life.

 

^you need to work in news. This isn't a "cycle." It's more like a death sentence. :wink: And the news companies are demanding a lot more of everyone for a lot less money. It's not realistic to even survive off the pay most news stations and newspapers offer. To put it lightly, it makes schoolteachers look like millionaires. And the agendas are still there, just it's now men AND women.

 

The timing of this economic depression couldn't have been more perfect in terms of killing the news industry. The perfect storm has been unleashed. Most people only get to experience something like this once in their life, so I guess that's the bright side- saying you survived the downfall. Anyone who is still working in five years would be akin to surviving a 90-foot rogue wave, having the ship turn upside down, and then escaping through the engine room.

 

Pieces of wire copy can be excellent, but local reporting in the second-tier cities was never and is never going to be the quality of the biggest cities.

 

True, but some medium markets had actually gotten downright impressive (I'd say Toledo Blade before the depression), and were competing with much larger cities, even the hub New York itself. The issue now is it's going to be very hard to maintain any sort of quality under the current payscale. Medium market, small market, even large market that aren't on the coasts are going to have a hell of a time surviving. Just look at the Detroit Free Press.

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One positive about some of the blogs is that if we are able to get some sort of aggregater to bring them together and allow certain bloggers to develop reputations based on the trustworthiness of their posts we might be moving along the lines of successfully reinventing the news. Unfortunately it will take time for the next medium to come to maturity and in that time we will be in a mini-dark ages sort of news climate.

 

A lot of the comments here criticize newspapers for living in the past and not embracing the Web. But the fact is, newspapers have had an online presence as long as anybody. But they have not figured out a way to make it profitable and authoritative. Nor have the bloggers.

 

Bingo, bingo, bingo

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When i said "cycle" i was more talking about the desire of the populace to be educated and aware of what's going on...but your point is taken.

 

You seem to be right out of the David Simon mold.  I'm a huge fan of his writing and television work but i still take whe he says with a grain of salt.  The idea of doing "more" with "less" is absolutely ridiculous in the newsroom (more so than it is in the rest of the world) and you can only do less with less.  I believe this was the major focus of The Wire season 5 (highly recommend that series).

 

While investigative journalism is great and necessary, it has to be balanced with the rest of the news.  Not sure if you're familiar with the timeline, but the Detroit Free Press really cracked open the text-message scandal regarding Kwame Kilpatrick.  They went after him like ravenous dogs and eventually got him out of office.  Great.  But, they seemed to put almost all their resources into it (and got a great big shiny award...oooohhh....) but probably ignored a lot of very important stories (the impending doom coming for the auto industry?).

 

I don't know, i'm bitter all around about the newspapers and the fact that i'll have to rely on television news for information.

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You seem to be right out of the David Simon mold.

 

Yes, very much so. And I think "Homicide: Life on the Street" was the greatest crime show ever made.

 

While investigative journalism is great and necessary, it has to be balanced with the rest of the news.  Not sure if you're familiar with the timeline, but the Detroit Free Press really cracked open the text-message scandal regarding Kwame Kilpatrick.  They went after him like ravenous dogs and eventually got him out of office.  Great.  But, they seemed to put almost all their resources into it (and got a great big shiny award...oooohhh....) but probably ignored a lot of very important stories (the impending doom coming for the auto industry?).

 

The problem is newspapers and news stations have just been stretched too thin. It's a very high-stress, ultra-competitive, low-reward industry with terrible, unhealthy hours. I don't know the specifics of the Free Press, but obviously going after Kilpatrick needed to happen since he was destroying Detroit and maybe even ordering hits on people. I do agree though that more coverage on the auto industry was needed. I think for a while, The Blade was doing a better job than the Free Press.

 

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I don't know, i'm bitter all around about the newspapers and the fact that i'll have to rely on television news for information.

 

You'd be surprised how many TV stations have partnered with newspapers, and thus losing the paper could destroy television coverage too. The fates are tied. Both are competing with internet.

 

Hell, we might have a situation where medium markets, small markets, and some large markets lose all their TV affiliates and newspapers leaving a huge hole of coverage in middle America. We'll have the biggest dailies on the coasts, CBS/ABC/NBC/Fox New York, and then 24/7 cable tabloid news/propaganda.

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For me, the amount of time I spend reading/watching a particular news outlet is directly related to the quality of news coverage I get from said news outlet. Which is why I hardly ever watch any American news channels (I love BBC News), but I would pay to read the NY Times/Chicago Tribune if I had to, and I sometimes do.

 

I'm wondering for how many other people this holds true as well? Or are these news outlets really onto something when they beat the shit out of a story or make it provocative and controversial, instead of just reporting the news without editorializing? Am I alone??

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Bloggers not making money?  Matt Drudge makes over $3 million a year. Why?  Because he has a terrific instinct for what people are interested in and has a sense of humor that resonates with the people:

 

obama-1-1.jpg

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Drudge is to blog what Limbaugh is to radio- editorial and rants, not hard news. Still, where does Drudge get his information? Take a wild guess...it's pilfering, plain and simple.

 

What you're talking about is infotainment. Is it the future (and the present)? Absolutely, just don't think it's real news. What Ailes did with Fox News was genius. He fully recognized that news would be more profitable when it revolved around celebrity commentators who discuss news, not make news. Most profitable blogs continued down that path.

 

Ailes also discovered the modern "news slut/news babe". Julie Banderas was one of the first to gain a cult following. Now older women are being replaced by young sorority girls all across the country. Sex sells. Ailes was a realist and the Fox News School of Journalism at OU will be leading kids down a far more realistic path than Scripps did.

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The Drudge Report is a conservative link aggregation -- it does few original reports on its own. The Huffington Post is a liberal blog aggregation -- many original entries from many columnists (wouldn't call them reporters on this one).

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Hell, we might have a situation where medium markets, small markets, and some large markets lose all their TV affiliates and newspapers leaving a huge hole of coverage in middle America. We'll have the biggest dailies on the coasts, CBS/ABC/NBC/Fox New York, and then 24/7 cable tabloid news/propaganda.

 

Not sure about the TV aspect of that statement.  Fox 19 in Cincinnati is currently expanding their news coverage, giving us four local newscasts at 6:00pm.

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Huffington and Drudge are both political machines that have an outspoken agenda.  There isn't anything wrong with that, as long as they are recognized for what they are.  They are not the future of journalism.

 

There are tons of out of work journalists, i just hope that they have not been burned by the industry to the point where they go get jobs outside of it and instead help reinvent the delivery system.

 

It's going to be a painful few years, but afterwards i think we'll emerge with a stronger and better system than we currently have (trophy driven, shock-headline, politically motivated, etc).

 

I just hope that journalism schools are starting to face this reality and are working on what the next step is going to be.

 

Oh, and just because newspapers have been online doesn't mean that they've embraced the medium.

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^ Good distinction. Maybe they haven't really embraced the medium, but I think they know that's where their future lies. But they're not quite comfortable with that because nobody knows how to make it work.

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So I thought this article was interesting, 1) because it's a news aggregator that apparently has figured out to make money on the web, and 2) because I think within this story, you may have ultimately the new model for how news is delivered.

 

I can forsee a future where there are two parties involved, those involved in investigating the news / writing the stories, and those involved in distributing the news. So for instance, the PD investigates / writes stories specifically relating to NE Ohio. Forget national / international stuff. Then it hires a distribution company (i.e. an aggregator) who charges a subscription for its services. The aggregator pools regional, national and international news and other media, and sells it to individual subscribers and provides the links back to the source. The original 'author' gets a cut of the subscription revenue.

 

Play to the comparative advantage. Journalists know how to investigate and write. Aggregators clearly are the model for which news is most commonly distributed on the web. Rather than compete, they 'complete' each other (and I'm trademarking my Johnny Cochranism there.... :lol: )

 

Here's the story

 

http://www.nytimes.com/external/readwriteweb/2009/07/14/14readwriteweb-breaking-news-online-how-one-19-year-old-is-43003.html

 

July 14, 2009

Breaking News Online: How One 19-Year Old Is Shaking Up Online Media

By MARSHALL KIRKPATRICK of ReadWriteWeb

 

Michael van Poppel used to be like a lot of young people, trawling the internet for interesting news about the world. Just like many others have considered doing, he created a place where he could post the most interesting news he finds, as fast as he can. Today he's one of the most-watched movers and shakers in online news media - and he's not yet twenty years old.

 

 

 

Copyright 2009 ReadWriteWeb. All Rights Reserved

 

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I don't see how this changes much of the discussion here. Other aggregators ar making money on the Web, too (eg, Huffington Post). The issue isn't aggregators. The key is how to make newsgathering and writing profitable. Newspapers have been aggregators for centuries -- aggregating local stories from their staffs, national and international news from wire services, comics and entertainment news from features syndicates, advertisements from local businesses. The advertisements subsidized the other activities.

 

van Poppel is doing interesting stuff, but he hasn't figured out how to pay for a worldwide network of original reporting.

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van Poppel is doing interesting stuff, but he hasn't figured out how to pay for a worldwide network of original reporting.

 

I don't know who's making what on the web, candidly. The benchmark for what is "successful" vs what's "profitable" is very different.

 

That said, this model seems pretty simple and straight forward, and you're right, this isn't re-inventing the wheel. It's basically a sum up of what we've spoken about.

 

It's not up to VanPoppel, or any other aggregator, to pay for global level reporting. There will be news creation agencies that supply original news content / reporting at different levels (national, local, global, bloggers, etc.). Much like a manufacturer of goods will do, the news creator will have to likely sign deals with multiple distributors of their contents. How they get paid is up in the air (do they get a cut of % of distributor's ad/subscription revenue, do they get paid per piece, etc.). But basically, their customer is the distributor / aggregator. Stop trying to sell directly to the public. Maybe the largest news agencies can/will do that, but for most the economies of scale are on the side of the aggregators. It's then up to the aggregators to drive the eyeballs to their sites, and ultimately to the news agencies' sites. The ability to do that will lie in their ability to provide a quality mix of content and market that product to both potential subscribers and potential advertisers.

 

Meh, I don't know. I'm no master of this industry. I just thought I saw a glimmer of a solution here.

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van Poppel is doing interesting stuff, but he hasn't figured out how to pay for a worldwide network of original reporting.

 

I don't know who's making what on the web, candidly. The benchmark for what is "successful" vs what's "profitable" is very different.

 

That said, this model seems pretty simple and straight forward, and you're right, this isn't re-inventing the wheel. It's basically a sum up of what we've spoken about.

 

It's not up to VanPoppel, or any other aggregator, to pay for global level reporting. There will be news creation agencies that supply original news content / reporting at different levels (national, local, global, bloggers, etc.). Much like a manufacturer of goods will do, the news creator will have to likely sign deals with multiple distributors of their contents. How they get paid is up in the air (do they get a cut of % of distributor's ad/subscription revenue, do they get paid per piece, etc.). But basically, their customer is the distributor / aggregator. Stop trying to sell directly to the public. Maybe the largest news agencies can/will do that, but for most the economies of scale are on the side of the aggregators. It's then up to the aggregators to drive the eyeballs to their sites, and ultimately to the news agencies' sites. The ability to do that will lie in their ability to provide a quality mix of content and market that product to both potential subscribers and potential advertisers.

 

Meh, I don't know. I'm no master of this industry. I just thought I saw a glimmer of a solution here.

 

You're not far from the truth.  Large media giants with print, radio, tv, cable distribution channels will always come out on top

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I've been saying this for years...

 

 

Close the J-Schools

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Shocking news from the halls of academia: Forbes reported earlier this year that enrollment in graduate journalism schools is booming. These kids are paying upwards of $70,000 (the cost of Columbia's J-School, including living expenses) for a ghost's chance of landing a job, at pitiful pay, in an industry that is rapidly collapsing. What's going to be the next hot field in graduate study? Blacksmithing? Bloodletting? Steamship design?

 

I don't meant to offend anyone from the noble field of steamship design, where there is actually a lot to learn. Journalism is not a profession like engineering, medicine or even law. You can pick up most media skills on the job, or with a few hours of instruction. If you screw up, nobody dies, and nothing collapses. This is why so many — perhaps most — journalism pros have built successful careers without touching J-school, and why many of them considered a J-degree a dubious credential even in the field's heyday.

 

Most J-school enrollees know this already: They go for the "contacts" thought to be essential in a competitive field. This made sense a few years ago. These days, it's like boarding the Titanic in hopes of meeting the captain. Many of these "contacts" are old-media refugees who made the desperate leap onto J-school faculties in response to buyouts or layoffs. Who are they gonna call when Johnny wants a job? And with all due respect to these good folks — for I, too, love old-school journalism — if their purpose is really to teach, are these bitter-enders really the folks we want teaching our next generation of media professionals?

 

If I asked you to pay $70,000 to get ahead in some other glamorous, extremely competitive, fairly non-technical profession — say, modeling — you might call me a charlatan. But journalism has become ensconced as an academic discipline at otherwise respectable institutions. Journalism is connected to a social mission. These are good things for J-school deans. Now that the industry is headed off a cliff — leaving them in charge of vocational schools without a vocation — all they have left is the school's imprimatur, the social mission, and — oh yeah — the glamour that keeps students coming through the door. Here's Columbia J-School dean Nicholas Lemann, explaining to Forbes the bewildering increase in applications: "I've never met a single person in 35 years who went into journalism out of pure economic reason."

 

Maybe a small-town newspaper editor making an offer to a job applicant would feel justified using that line. At least he's offering a job, if a low-paying one. Lemann, however, is hawking an outdated Rolodex with a $70,000 price tag. What Lemann is really saying is this: "We don't promise a well-paying job — or even a job at all. But they're paying us money to come here. What do you expect us to do?"

 

Here's what you can do: Close down. At the least, J-school deans, you should slash your enrollments. How much? Simple: Assess the degree to which the profession has shrunk, and then reduce your class size accordingly. How else can you assure the media world that you're not just flooding the market with new blood, eager to do the job of laid-off workers at lower pay?

 

Think you still have a role to play in the ever-changing media landscape? Great. Go forth and teach workshops in copyediting, camerawork, graphic design, the business of publishing, even journalistic ethics. Teach them at night or on weekends, and charge a grand or so for each. That will make them accessible to the hausfrau bloggers, the go-go entrepreneurs, and the neighborhood activists who will shape our media future. That will professionalize the media, if that's what you care to do.

 

Do not fill up two years of anyone's time with bush-league "news services" (Oh boy! A clip in The Daily Supplement!) or mandatory classes in media history, communications theory or journalism philosophy. Do not charge so much money to walk through the door that the program is open only to the rich, the idle, or the financially illiterate. That's not a journalism school; that's a gold-plated welfare program for your old newsroom buddies, built on the backs of starry-eyed naïfs.

 

I resisted J-school for several years as I pursued a career in newspapers. Finally, in 2003, I accepted an offer to study business journalism on fellowship. I took half my classes at the business school. The B-schoolers were passionate, driven, and excited about their future; the J-schoolers seemed timid, desultory, and aimless. At the J-school, the prizewinners whose names had lured students to the program were indulged with classes on topics with no practical career use. Meanwhile, the B-schoolers learned how to boost productivity and adapt to changing markets.

 

It dawned on me that the new business models that may save journalism were much more likely to come from the business school than the journalism school. At times I felt like closing down the J-school and sending most of those kids straight across campus, to the shiny new B-school.

 

Richard Sine spent a dozen years at newspapers before turning freelance (by choice, not by layoff). He writes about business and personal finance for magazines such as Men's Health and corporate clients such as Fidelity and UPS.

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Yeah, I think that makes sense, and journalism isn't the only field that we're pumping out too many grads in relative to the job opportunities.

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