Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What Is The Value of News?

"It's like some French Foreign Legion outpost up there," says Colin McEnroe, a former capitol correspondent who who was recently fired from his job hosting a daily radio talk show and writes a weekly column for the Courant. "Everyone around you is dead and you've got six bullets left and 20 people running at you."

That's from an article at detailing the decline of reporting and news coverage of state legislatures, the continuing poor health of the newspaper business and the search for a new business model for news.

What role will the news biz take in the next decade? What does the public need and use from reporting?

Reporters have been poorly paid historically, and bloggers do much with zero pay, so is all profitability from reporting and publishing about to disappear? Will we see a rise in regional newspapers or perhaps more locally published weekly papers?

The argumentative he said/she said blather unrolling across cable news networks plays like verbal wrestling matches and may draw ratings, but does it actually supply information or simply entertainment?

Maybe newspapers should adopt the old stringer method and start paying, even small amounts, to those who attend, blog and report events at the local and state level.

Michael Hirschorhn writes on the potential demise of the NYTimes and the possible future of news reporting for the Atlantic and says:

As David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, pointed out at a recent media breakfast, the blogging and local reporting from Mumbai in the early hours of the November terrorist attacks were nothing short of remarkable. Ditto in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I recall avidly following the 2006 crisis in Lebanon through a variety of sources, none less interesting or credible because it was, say, Haaretz instead of The Times. Like neighboring hospitals coordinating their purchases of expensive MRI equipment, journalistic outlets will discover that the Web allows (okay, forces) them to concentrate on developing expertise in a narrower set of issues and interests, while helping journalists from other places and publications find new audiences.

In this scenario, would begin to resemble a bigger, better, and less partisan version of the Huffington Post, which, until someone smarter or more deep-pocketed comes along, is the prototype for the future of journalism: a healthy dose of aggregation, a wide range of contributors, and a growing offering of original reporting. This combination has allowed the HuffPo to digest the news that matters most to its readers at minimal cost, while it focuses resources in the highest-impact areas."

Jack Lail has been writing about the challenges both economic and cultural facing the media today and continues to be optimistic:

Instead of viewing the blogger-MSM relationship as only symbiotic, which it certainly can be, I like to think about the media gatekeeper as having an open gate, drawing in more views and voices from both small and large, from competitor and contributor and from the uncomfortable as well as the comfortable.

Instead of heavy filtering to fit a physical newshole or time slot, mainstream media has an expanded ability to cultivate community dialogue."

I do think it most hopeful that the print media is looking for a solution and not just cashing out and going home.

I'm also eyeing this project from Newscoma and Sadcox, called NewsTechZilla. They work to provide information and report on how to make the online world work best for news coverage. Given the excellent skills of it's creators and contributors, I think they've got a great site rolling. I'm adding them to the blogroll on the right side of this page.

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