Full piece here.
See Martin’s previous piece on Jeff Bezos’ acquisition of the Washington Post.
The newspaper business always was about attracting eyeballs, with the rest of the news-bundle and journalism funded with advertising revenue. Newspapers had pretty well cornered this market, changing reluctantly if at all, as we’ve seen in recent years, with many national dailies going under.
McArdle’s main point is that journalism has been unbundled from its old revenue model, and the competition now earning that advertising revenue online isn’t interested in journalism.
Martin responds to Megan McArdle’s piece, by taking-on the idea that journalism is really all that important in the first-place:
‘The problem being that Megan, who I think very highly of in general, has been seduced by that same notion of journalism as something special and noble. Sorry, while you may be in the business of producing news — Bloomberg gets most of it’s revenue actually selling data to people in finance — most everyone else is in the business of selling ads, whether they know it or not’
Are you actually willing to pay for journalism and/or acts of journalism?
Here’s a photo of the First Amendment on the Newseum’s facade:
Whether or not it’s professionalized and institutionalized, I’d argue that journalism has a place in being responsive to the people it serves, often in relaying information about politics & local events and/or providing a place where whistleblowers can get away from the realities of where money, power & influence meet. Going to the scene of every accident in town or digging into a politician’s past, of course, can be done by anyone, but it generally takes time and money enough to become a professional activity for those who do it all the time, with an eye towards informing the public.
This is where some professionalization can be a good thing, because there’s pressure put on journalists to at least get their facts straight and sources cited. It can keep the hacks and hustlers out and readers’ trust up.
This kind of professionalized guild structure has disadvantages, too, of course. Many journalists can come to overlook their own self-interest, seeing themselves as members of a club full of other journalists and influencers especially if they make the big-leagues. Human nature being what it is, people naturally seek influence in addition to knowledge. They seek their place in society, money & status in addition to uncovering truth and getting at facts. This is why I prefer journalists humble and skeptical, even if I disagree with them ideologically.
Are you actually willing to pay into this professional class of journalists as it stands now?
As a commenter points out over there, many local dailies and community papers actually are doing ok, or at least some are staying afloat. This local, print option still seems to be working in many markets and funding some local journalism. Radio’s still around after all, and profitable for those who practice it well.
Also, not all media companies with revenue streams may be wholly uninterested in journalism. Yes, they can be gossip-filled and pay-per-click or list-obsessed and vapid but those models can work. They might be able to produce work of some value going forward.
Perhaps I take a less dim view of journalism as a profession even with the curtain pulled back and all the myth, inflated egos, and hot air visible.
Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon
–Check out an oral history of the epic collision between journalism and digital technology, from 1980 to the present, from the Nieman Journalism Lab.
–In addition to the technology, people also curate culture, and ideas. David Remnick at the New Yorker just had a piece entitled “A Joyful Folk Summit At Town Hall‘ which through jaundiced eye I see partly as a way to stay relevant and curate a certain worldview along with up and coming music where it’s forming.
–NPR does this particularly well, often weaving a deep appreciation for the arts and humanities along with music criticism of folk, jazz, rock, funk and new hipsterism into a cultural cloth which belongs to ‘the People.’ A little too collectivist for my taste, but hey.
Related On This Site: Technology changing how and why we congregate, and perhaps eroding the civic glue?: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest-’Hey, You’re Truly Unlimited: Didn’t You Know?’
Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Could Amazon and Jeff Bezos Make the Washington Post Profitable?’…‘Sorry, Jeff Bezos, the News Bundle Isn’t Coming Back‘
Michael Kinsley At The New Republic Via Althouse: ‘A Q & A With Jill Abramson’
From Slate: “Newsweek Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up”
A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’