Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Views of the News, March 4, 2009

Blogging, citizen journalism, new subscription models, and other attempts by the newspaper industry to survive. Panelists: Mike McKean, Lee Wilkins, Charles Davis.

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1 comment:

Emily said...

This was a great show, but I've got more info to add to the conversation about the NYT's efforts to incorporate "hyperlocal" blogs into their online offerings. They do, in fact, have monetization on the brain — but, uh, not in a way that will work for them long-term.

The following is an article from Harvard's Neiman Journalism Lab—which is self-described as a "collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age." NJL interviewed Jim Schachter, editor for digital initiatives at the NYT, and here's how he thinks of the blog concept. (Full article is available at

“What’s going on here? It turns out the Times’ ambitions in this field are bigger — and, in another sense, smaller — than they might appear from the two sites that debuted on Monday with a full-time reporter at the helm of each. The long-term business model, Schachter said, could involve distributing a local-blogging platform to people in other communities who would start their own sites without any Times reporters or editors at all. They might pay the Times to license the platform or share revenue from a Times-run advertising network that’s under consideration."

I applaud the Times for thinking of monetization, but it's disturbing to think they would sell their logo to just anyone willing to pay. That said, it could lend serious credibility to blogs that ARE picking up the slack from dying newspapers — West Seattle Blog comes to mind.

As a grad student who's about to face a career in online entrepreneurial journalism, I'm not worried about monetization. The tide will turn, but not without the NYT leading the way. Just like the WSJ, the Times has the kind of valuable content that is worth charging for. NOW. No gimmicks (e.g., TimesSelect), no licensing to hacks. Otherwise, the brand gets tarnished.

Not incidentally, the full quote is:

"On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other."

(Stewart Brand speaking at the first Hackers Conference in 1984)