Is it any wonder MSM is struggling

Mark Day Blog – The Australian – ranting about how the only model for journalism is:

  1. Private sector business
  2. Advertising supported

"By definition this is a job for private enterprise because governments cannot reliably scrutinise themselves. Journalism that reveals information that some people do not want you to know is time-consuming and costly to sustain. Therefore it can be supported only by a profitable business."

"There is only one model I know, or can see, that can do this, and that is the traditional advertiser-supported model that has sustained newspapers for more than a century."

Well here’s a quick drive-by rant of my own: (And FTR: no, I don’t consider my blog “journalism”)

I supposed I don’t need to point out the conflict of interest here? A professional journalist protecting the status quo (and keeping the bosses happy). And the delicious irony, after a bunch of blog bashing, is that Mark published it on his blog. But even putting those aside…

Seems Mark’s got blinkers on – there are other models, and some bright folks are exploring them. Not all of them will work or survive – but one thing’s sure, advertising supported journalism (esp. in traditional print form) is not one of them. Yes, we need to work out other models. Yes, blogging is not the (only) answer – though it certainly has a valuable role to play.

Has he not been watching/listening to Jeff Jarvis, or Jay Rosen, or Seth Godin? There are a bunch of ideas out there for those willing to listen and try them. The problem is the risk involved – either personally (for journalists stepping out on their own) or organisations (who are gunshy to invest in something that might not work).

As an aside, it strikes me that the more money involved, the less good journalism is performed, because entertainment apparently sells better. That’s why I no longer get most of my news through mainstream sources, relying primarily on my social networks (Twitter, blogs and Delicious) to keep perspective on what’s happening in the world. Every time I watch what passes as news on TV, or even read the headlines on (SMH is slightly better), I cringe.

This is not an ideological argument, btw – i.e. not a “left vs. right” argument. Good journalism IMO transcends that. It’s not the sway or bias that’s the issue, it’s the fact the content itself is not up to par. Until that changes, payment for the skill of journalism will continue to suffer.

  • I sort of read it differently. I thought his point was that there is no substitute for first hand reporting whether by bloggers or journalists. First hand reporting is expensive and time consuming. It involves travelling to meet people and see things and being available at any time of the day to do so.

    A lot of blogging and journalism for that matter is just the recycling of secondhand news.

    There’s no substitute for original research and to do that you need time and money.

  • Thanks Charlie. Re: “First hand reporting is expensive and time consuming. It involves travelling to meet people and see things and being available at any time of the day to do so.”

    Absolutely agree with this. And he does make the point. But his assertion that business-led, private sector, advertising supported publication is the only way to achieve this is what I take issue with. And perhaps I’m emphasising this in my review at the expense of the broader issues he’s trying to raise.

    My counter-point, I suppose, is that we’re not getting that anyways (“recycled” is a good term for it) under that paid model – and it’s a downward spiral as a result…

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