I just returned from the annual ONA [Online News Association] conference, and for the first time we heard talk about the business people inside newspaper companies starting (or at least trying) to understand the Internet.
This is where the rubber meets the road. To those of us who write the articles and shoot the video, the Internet is just another means of delivery. It is the publishers and ad salespeople who need to figure out how to take in enough money from this new delivery method to pay for quality journalism.
I work for a profitable Internet-based news and information company, so I *know* it is possible to generate news-based income without paper or a broadcast license. So take heart. People who delight in reporting and are good at it -- and are willing to adjust to some new ways of doing things -- will keep on working in the field.
We may carry a video camera in addition to a pen and a note pad these days, but it's the same old job. And since the barriers to entry for online publishing are lower than for print-based publishing, you are going to see a lot more competition for news eyeballs than we've seen in our recent decades of media ownership consolidation. I'm talking about serious competition in quality reporting, not about 40,000 blog-style opinion pieces. And do not doubt for one second that quality reporting isn't appreciated. It's what bring in the eyeballs the ad salespeople sell to clients. Without it they would have nothing to sell. The smarter salespeople realize this. The less-smart ones will soon go away. Car dealers and life insurance companies are always looking for salespeople...
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