"Politicians. Businessmen. Nobody’s watching them anymore."
March 5, 2016 10:25 AM   Subscribe

As newsrooms disappear, veteran reporters are being forced from the profession. They dedicated their lives to telling other people’s stories. What happens when no one wants to print their words anymore?
posted by zarq (100 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
There's a serious irony to the fact that I cannot read this article due to the Nation's website configuration not working in my browser.
posted by Ndwright at 10:32 AM on March 5, 2016 [10 favorites]


start drinking. same as everyone else.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:34 AM on March 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


In the grim future wasteland of Trumpistan there will be only listicles.
posted by Artw at 10:44 AM on March 5, 2016 [28 favorites]


I wonder how many people are currently enrolled in journalism programs across the country. I similarly wonder how many new grads will have a focus in PR work.
posted by el io at 10:44 AM on March 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


There was a paywall too, that's why I didn't read the words.
posted by Damienmce at 10:44 AM on March 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


Truthfully, I do read and I read alot of news online. There is room for these much needed stories, and really writers need to be salaried employees. It is an absolute public service.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:45 AM on March 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


One editor of a major national publication, who himself is well over 40, confided to me that he’s reluctant to hire older journalists, that “they’re stuck in the mentality of doing one story a week” and not willing to use social media.

And that's why newspapers are failing. The simple lack of intellectual agility to recognize and adjust to a changing landscape. Walk into any newsroom today and you'll find weekly columnists that pull down a salary completely out of line with what readership they pull in. And because they're treated like landed gentry, the newsroom culture never changes. It's Downton Abbey with keyboards, getting plowed over by the future.

And it's curious to me why all of this is framed as tragedy. Classical music and jazz used to be more popular than today. But nobody's writing about the hardships of out-of-work violinists and what the loss of bassoon players means for society.

But let's all feel sorry for the 50-year-old white guys that have to -- shudder -- suddenly have to come to grips with profit and loss.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:51 AM on March 5, 2016 [23 favorites]


What happens when no one wants to print their words anymore?

💩💩💩 Everything You Need To Know About The Syrian Conflict In These 10 Hilarious Cat GIFs 💩💩💩
posted by Behemoth at 10:52 AM on March 5, 2016 [25 favorites]


> Walk into any newsroom today and you'll find weekly columnists that pull down a salary completely out of line with what readership they pull in.

I popped in here to say "And yet Margaret Wente and Joe Warmington and Christie Blatchford and their ilk still have jobs, somehow."
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:54 AM on March 5, 2016 [8 favorites]


This reminds me of what I imagine would be a medieval priest's lament at increased literacy.

For those of us that follow the news, there is no better time ever to be informed. I don't need to rely on the priestly caste interpreting legal documents and speeches for me; I have direct access to them.
posted by jpe at 11:03 AM on March 5, 2016 [16 favorites]


And it's curious to me why all of this is framed as tragedy. Classical music and jazz used to be more popular than today. But nobody's writing about the hardships of out-of-work violinists and what the loss of bassoon players means for society.

It's framed as tragedy because society as a whole will lose. A vibrant press is a crucial element of a functional democracy. Spending a week on original reporting is necessary to actually investigate things. When you have people turning out several stories a day, they are merely rehashing stories that have already been told, or worse, rewriting press releases or writing opinion pieces about the latest manufactured news of the day.

And actually yes, there are a ton of stories written about the economical impact of the new digital economy and how it impacts musicians. Maybe not bassoon players, but certainly bass players.
posted by el io at 11:05 AM on March 5, 2016 [112 favorites]


Weird. I mean, I've been out of the business for 4 years now, and only worked web production for small city/regional papers, but the "columnists swanning around" or the "only expects to write one story a week" models are completely alien to what I remember. At my level reporters worked on the "have three or four briefs for the web plus full stories for print later plus any evening meetings plus work on the weekend centerpieces plus any long-term enterprise piece you're working on" daily model. Also columnists were either local and very low-paid because no one cared, or syndicated.

It seems short-sighted to talk as if national/big city market newspapers are the entire story. But then it also seems depressingly accurate, as far as anyone really cares. So. As you were.
posted by rewil at 11:09 AM on March 5, 2016 [19 favorites]


The Card Cheat: "I popped in here to say "And yet Margaret Wente and Joe Warmington and Christie Blatchford and their ilk still have jobs, somehow.""

How much is the Canadian newspaper scene is like the US one? Honest question, I really have no idea. I could imagine a world where there's more institutional support for the major Toronto papers than say in Chicago.
posted by crazy with stars at 11:09 AM on March 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


And actually yes, there are a ton of stories written about the economical impact of the new digital economy and how it impacts musicians. Maybe not bassoon players, but certainly bass players.

Bassoon players as well. Our high school wind symphony director is also bassoonist in the local pro symphony; he talks about it from time to time.

As for journalism. It's been very disheartening seeing the quality of both writing and editing take a nosedive these past few years. To the point where you realize that many writers don't even know what they're talking about (and this is at top-notch places), because if they did they would at least get the basic terminology right. Or have an editor telling them "you should research X by looking into Y and come back to me with another draft." I remember learning complex grammar and vocabulary from articles as recently as a few years ago; since then it's been the opposite. I don't read the online press much any more as a result.
posted by fraula at 11:15 AM on March 5, 2016 [11 favorites]


They should learn computers.

Hey, that's what they told blue collar workers when their jobs disappeared.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:20 AM on March 5, 2016 [8 favorites]


They should learn computers.

Hey, that's what they told blue collar workers when their jobs disappeared.
Oh, that was a thing a couple of years ago. "If they want to save their jobs, journalists need to learn to code!" It turns out that there aren't any jobs for journalists who can code a tiny bit, either, but it was a nice way of blaming people for being unemployed.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:26 AM on March 5, 2016 [56 favorites]


Classical music and jazz used to be more popular than today. But nobody's writing about the hardships of out-of-work violinists and what the loss of bassoon players means for society

Sure they are. As a music professor (who has no interest in classical music) I hear it day in and day out year after year.
posted by spitbull at 11:27 AM on March 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


There's just a lot more interesting stuff to read than a newspaper these days. These guys didn't lose their jobs to computers or cheap labour abroad; they lost it to stuff like Vice and Twitter and Buzzfeed and Talia Jane's open letter.

Most of what newspapers carried ten years ago was either advertising or lightly disguised advertising, but nobody mourned for the advertising workers who lost their jobs when Google ate advertising.
posted by colie at 11:28 AM on March 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


Woodward and Bernstein took TWO YEARS reporting Watergate. The daily story churn, which has always existed, has to support longer-term reporting by dedicated investigative reporters or it's really just commentary on press conferences. The problem with a lot of press outlets these days is that they're ONLY daily story churn (and commentary), with nobody doing the work on medium- or long-term investigations. That works for a while, especially if the commentary is smart (you can do a lot of pretty good political coverage just covering and interpreting public events, there's so much tea-leaf reading). But there has to be someone digging in to documents and developing sources over the longer term to get the REALLY good stories.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:29 AM on March 5, 2016 [87 favorites]


I mean, we all saw Spotlight, right? You think someone on Twitter or some open-letter writer is going to have the time or the know-how to go through all the back directories of priests and write down the names of all the ones who moved around a lot and/or were listed as being on sick leave? That story would never have been broken without people who were paid to do old-fashioned, shoe-leather journalism. There are probably equally important stories that are not being broken now because so few journalists are able to do it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:34 AM on March 5, 2016 [68 favorites]


Buzzfeed has been doing some great long form investigative journalism, even if it isn't like Spotlight. Whether in print or not, long form, in-depth reporting is always going to be more interesting than things like an open letter click bait.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:38 AM on March 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


The musicial analog has been happening in slow motion for a hundred years. Records killed home musicianship; radio killed records but made a new market for live performance; then records came back and killed live performance on the radio; then pro songwriters struck against radio, letting country songwriters take away their market; then singer-songwriters killed the entire dedicated songwriters' market but made a market for studio engineers; now laptop recording has killed the studios.

I'm sure glad I didn't go to journalism school like I almost wanted to though. I don't know how the people who are still in journalism can pump out as many articles per day as they all have to now.
posted by enf at 11:42 AM on March 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


Older bassoonists these days simply refuse to make sampled bassoon beats and post them on soundcloud. Freaking useless.
posted by spitbull at 11:43 AM on March 5, 2016 [13 favorites]


There is still plenty of good reporting being done. Buzzfeed and Vice do some great work. Magazines that are connected to a local market are still doing well (I am a freelancer supporting a family and I can count on "topping up" my annual income by about 10% a year through magazine writing).

I also work as an "engagement editor" for an online news organization, and part of my job is to publish our stories in social media channels so people can read them.

I look at the legacy media in Canada (where Postmedia is busy laying off staff) and it's really obvious that news orgs in Canada at least are not paying attention to this at all. They hire an intern to make posts to the Facebook page, for the most part.

I've also seen the meme where "Facebook's algorithm is throttling traffic to trad. news sites - they want you to use ads to increase your reach."

Totally bogus, if you ask me. We've doubled Facebook traffic year-over-year just by being strategic about how we post. While I am not going to name where I work, I can say it is a non-profit news org with about 100,000 visitors a month. So not huge. The news org I look up to at the moment would be Public Radio International. Their social media team is doing good work.

We use an industry-standard (not Hootsuite btw) automated scheduling tool for posts to social media, which also works really well.

Anyway, I don't think journalism is dead at all. What's dead is the business model of supporting journalism with classified ads and fliers. I've also noticed that journalists can be very arrogant (not objective in this regard) about how much better they are than Vice and Buzzfeed.

The arrogance and lack of objectivity, plus a desire to place barriers in front of non-trad media is really killing them.

And also consider how much of a newspaper is made up of opinionaters and columnists. If I want opinions I can find it for free anywhere on the web.

Traditional media isn't doomed to suffer declining readership either. Washington Post's engagement stats are a hockey stick. WaPo is totally kicking ass at the moment.

The key, I think, is engaging readers. I said this in another thread, where reporters have got to start interacting with the communities they are covering. Reporters have got to stop regarding themselves as technocratic experts.
posted by My Dad at 11:48 AM on March 5, 2016 [14 favorites]


Sure they are. As a music professor...

... you should understand a rhetorical metaphor when you see one? :-)

Seriously, replace "music" with whatever thing used to be popular where people were paid to do it and aren't any more to the degree they used to be. It's not a tragedy. The reason they're not being paid to do it anymore is because no one feels they need the product of the work.

Which, by the way, is a totally different topic than, "Isn't it sad newspapers are dying?" Idiocracy was a cute movie, but we all didn't suddenly get stupid. People want news. Just not the way they used to.

People don't read newspapers. Many of them look only to TV. So rather than decry the loss of newspapers, why aren't we asking why TV news can't be better?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:50 AM on March 5, 2016


I mean, we all saw Spotlight, right?

You mean the movie about the paper owned by a billionaire? So tell me again why this business isn't growing? Boo, Craigslist?

(Original edit, forgot the Globe was purchased from the NY Times Company. But, same point -- simple mismanagement, not a tragedy.)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:56 AM on March 5, 2016


I'm just teasing CPB. I actually agree with you on this. Times change, culture changes, work changes. No one should starve but society doesn't owe you a living for doing something you love but people don't care to pay for any more.

Luckily I'm a popular music guy. We are the enemy within.
posted by spitbull at 12:02 PM on March 5, 2016


San Francisco's paper "The San Francisco Chronicle" main free web site SFGate.com has basically become Reddit, but just 4 days later and celebrity news.

When your given a choice between reddit, or a fake reddit, people will pick the real reddit every time.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 12:03 PM on March 5, 2016


People don't read newspapers. Many of them look only to TV. So rather than decry the loss of newspapers, why aren't we asking why TV news can't be better?
I actually think that a lot of people are abandoning TV news, as well, and we're better off looking to the internet for the future of journalism.
You mean the movie about the paper owned by a billionaire? So tell me again why this business isn't growing? Boo, Craigslist?
Sadly, no billionaire has deigned to purchase the paper where I live, so the "news" around here consists largely of republished press releases. There are a couple of excellent journalists around here, and sometimes they do really good investigative journalism, but they are seriously, seriously under-resourced, which limits what they can do. I get that you guys think that's my fault for living in some flyover hell where people don't deserve to know what's going on, but I guess that I just disagree.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:04 PM on March 5, 2016 [10 favorites]


I think creative destructionism will be with us throughout our history, and it is likely that other new and interesting (insert whatever you want, business model, art, music) will appear as one disappears. But my hope would be that when these transitions happen that 1) we don't forget what was there before and absolutely forget it about it (ie, so for the music example someone used above, it would be great if...sure, rock comes after jazz, but why not listen to and build upon both) and 2) that we don't forget about the *people* in an industry that is changing and dropping people (or roll our eyes and say they were old, weren't changing, etc.). Because I don't think this is unique to journalists. The same force strike any profession, any career, at any time and in part of the world - it can be you, your family, your friends, most of a city, country, etc., that is affected.

Also, when I read this article, I was struck by the interview with 
John Koopman (ie, the person who reported gritty stories, needed to keep a job to support his family to went to work at the strip club and threatened someone and quit, to now driving for Uber.) In the interview, he states that right now he is ambivalent about writing. I really hope that he (and other people losing and changing their jobs like that) do keep on writing - because in a way, there are many aspects of his story, like doing something you don't want to help those around you, or go through burnout, or see careers and society change...that is the story of all of us, as people, and I think that some of the journalists are in the best position to tell that story.
posted by Wolfster at 12:05 PM on March 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


>that we don't forget about the *people* in an industry that is changing and dropping people (or roll our eyes and say they were old, weren't changing, etc.).

I think that's an important point. The world is changing much too fast sometimes for people to be able predict and preemptively retool for some future job market.
posted by My Dad at 12:11 PM on March 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Chicago's major media is now pretty terrible but there are alternatives like Aldertrack a freemium news service that tracks all the media reporting from the major papers and TV websites but even more importantly the premium service does reporting at the local city council level that was largely missing from the major papers.

I'm not that into politics (can't vote so there is no great benefit for me other than a deeper understanding - which doesn't exactly help me live a happy life given the state of American politics!) but for someone who is serious about this the resource would be fantastic.

So yeah..adapt or die. Some people are adapting and doing okay.
posted by srboisvert at 12:19 PM on March 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Was it here or on Twitter where I saw a link to a thing that argued that some of the best journalism in the US today is being done in industry trade journals, because their readership is still willing to pay good money for serious, informed reporting? That's bad news for the rest of us, because it means that the people who run corporations will be informed in a way that regular citizens won't be, since trade journal subscriptions are extremely expensive and the information in them is highly specialized.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:22 PM on March 5, 2016 [13 favorites]


Seriously, replace "music" with whatever thing used to be popular where people were paid to do it and aren't any more to the degree they used to be. It's not a tragedy. The reason they're not being paid to do it anymore is because no one feels they need the product of the work.

People fucking love music, just don't fucking pay for it.
posted by Artw at 12:22 PM on March 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


They pay a handful of people like Adele and Beyonce for music. That's what works most efficiently for capitalism. There are also some columnists paid a million dollars a year (even Boris Johnson pulls in 250k).
posted by colie at 12:24 PM on March 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Times change, culture changes, work changes. No one should starve but society doesn't owe you a living for doing something you love but people don't care to pay for any more.

Things are drying up for all musicians, not just classically-trained ones. It's not because classical music has somehow been made obsolete by jazz and pop, it's because the way music is produced has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. It's much, much harder to make a living at it than it used to be, and it's because there's less of a demand for live music at events (there are cheaper options), there's much less of a demand for studio work (you can hire a couple soloists and use East West for the rest of the orchestra), and symphony orchestras are that much more competitive than they used to be.

Attributing all this to cultural change misses the point, because it's not like classical music has become irrelevant. The real problem is how economics has forced change, and I think that's the story with journalism today, too. It's absurd to think that nobody wants in-depth, longform journalism in the age of Buzzfeed. It's just that the Buzzfeed model is cheaper to produce; listicles and clickbait headlines get tons of pageviews, and they're a thousand times cheaper to produce than an investigative piece.

I'm not a journalist, but there's a thing musicians always hear, which is "if you love it so much you should be willing to do it for free." It's an absurd suggestion, and it's not because musicians demand to be culturally relevant when they are not. It's that musicians have never stopped being culturally relevant and never will be, but the economic model expects you to produce more for less. We're making it impossible to earn a living, but we're expecting something that resembles the same product we've always gotten. That's the real story here, and talking about a refusal to adapt is just mean to the people who couldn't have anticipated this when their careers started 25 years ago.
posted by teponaztli at 12:25 PM on March 5, 2016 [26 favorites]


People don't read newspapers. Many of them look only to TV. So rather than decry the loss of newspapers, why aren't we asking why TV news can't be better?

The issue isn't the specific medium (although I think the evidence has shown that TV news, bloggers, and citizens with iPhones are poor substitutes for professional journalists). It's the loss of a whole chunk of what I rather fondly think of as the public sphere--the common store of practices and institutions that constitute having a society at all. The death of newspapers matters because it's part of the larger dying-off of serious investigative journalism. As this quote from the article makes clear, it's the death of this whole infrastructure that matters, not the papers per se:

"You know who loves this new day of the lack of journalism? Politicians. Businessmen. Nobody’s watching them anymore."

Exactly. It's not just (as someone said above) about having some priestly class to parse documents for you, it's having people with real expertise, time, connections, and resources who can uncover and explain truths about the world that some would rather keep hidden. If no one "feels they need the product" of this labor, we might as well call it a wrap on this whole civilization thing.
posted by informavore at 12:26 PM on March 5, 2016 [24 favorites]


> There's just a lot more interesting stuff to read than a newspaper these days.

Replace "interesting" with "quickly absorbed and digested" and you have a point.

I'm saddened by the comments so eager to jump on the "ha ha olds clinging to their old ways" snarkwagon that they don't seem to realize that there actually is something being lost. Go back and read the comments by Eyebrows McGee and ArbitraryAndCapricious and take a moment to think about them. Creative destruction is sometimes more destructive than creative.
posted by languagehat at 12:33 PM on March 5, 2016 [33 favorites]


No one should starve but society doesn't owe you a living for doing something you love but people don't care to pay for any more.

I might agree with this if it weren't for the fact we do seem to think that society owes investors a return on their investments (as the bail outs demonstrated, there are some in our society we think are owed something, it's just not the people who do the actual work). Also, economic and cultural trends don't really happen in a perfect theoretical vacuum; people get paid to promote and endorse things like social media so that they'll be adopted. The industries in America tend to be the drivers of popular trends (remember the bacon craze that swept the media and all the chain restaurants a little while back? That didn't happen accidentally. Pork producers found themselves caught flat with surplus product and started marketing and making partnerships with retail food outlets to hype bacon to cut their losses/maintain profits. It wasn't some spontaneous consumer cultural craze that arose in a vacuum, it was a phenomenon driven at first by industrial needs that the public gladly played along with because--well, let's face it, bacon's delicious (and I concede that as someone who doesn't even eat the pork variety anymore)).

So to the extent these economic developments aren't just spontaneous, natural occurrence, but planned, strategic efforts bankrolled by industry and capital, why shouldn't industry and capital share in some of the social responsibility for helping people and society cope and adapt?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:44 PM on March 5, 2016 [10 favorites]


remember the bacon craze
posted by colie at 12:46 PM on March 5, 2016


Government and their business friends don't want the truth or opinion that differs from their own.
Mainstream news is now infotainment. Thats why America has Trump.
The way its going is ninja journalism.
posted by adamvasco at 12:46 PM on March 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


The challenge is ad revenue - it doesn't exist anymore for media outlets. It has already been devoured by Google, and, with the move to mobile, it's going to be eliminated altogether for media outlets by Facebook and other apps.

The solution supposedly is to charge for content, but that is an innovation that has never really been tried before.

Traditionally, newspapers relied on subscriptions for just a fraction of their revenue; advertising kept the lights on. And it's the same for television.

I've read that in the US there are perhaps about a million people tops who are willing to subscribe and pay for content.

And in a world of competing "content" sources, who can afford to pay $10 multiple times, for multiple subscriptions?

Unfortunately most people, if they still have basic cable, rely on television for their news. And, besides forking out money to the cable provider, tv news is free.

But with Netflix and Amazon, even that business model is going to implode, I think.
posted by My Dad at 12:48 PM on March 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Thanks for reminding me to re-up my subscription to The Nation.
posted by AdamCSnider at 12:51 PM on March 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yes, people seem to think it's ok to bash these institutions; they have it in their heads that the people who are affected by this are old white dudes pulling in a comfortable salary, so who cares? I worked at a newspaper for years and it's an experience I'm incredibly grateful to have had, which is why I always shake my head at the proclamations made in threads like these. Everyone's an expert.
posted by girlmightlive at 12:55 PM on March 5, 2016 [16 favorites]


You know who loves this new day of the lack of journalism? Politicians. Businessmen. Nobody’s watching them anymore."

You know, you never watched them anyway. You rewrote their press releases, you accepted cosy briefings, you went to lunch. Your idea of heaven was having lunch with one of them. In the UK the only people who were as fascinated with Robert Maxwell as he was himself were journalists; there was page after page about him in Private Eye. Yet did any journalist even suggest that he was committing fraud with the pension fund? No. Not a sniff. Not a clue.

You had your chance; the long, long lunch you chose is finally over.
posted by Segundus at 1:07 PM on March 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


So fuck the world and it'll all just be kings and peasants from now on, because that's all we deserve?

Fuck.
posted by Artw at 1:12 PM on March 5, 2016 [9 favorites]


Your idea of heaven was having lunch with one of them.

This is my biggest beef with political columnists and reporters: they're part of the power structure and are merely writing gossip so much of the time.

Luckily in Canada, some top-flight journalists hoping to escape from the crumbling industry can get good jobs in government.

Or you can moonlight by selling high-priced art to the movers and shakers you interview.
posted by My Dad at 1:13 PM on March 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


As other people are saying "Throw these dinosaurs out, they're holding us back", do they realize the sad sort of demand for media that exists today?

I really do see that we are losing he impetus that some media organizations used to have to expose misdeeds, corruption and highlight important events. I'm aware that it hasn't completely disappeared, but I would argue it has been diminished. Some of this has to do with media outlets being owned or controlled by increasingly large corporations, and with communications technologies that make pulling down a story that reflects poorly on a sponsor much more easy.

More importantly, though, I think our largest problem is the millenial apathy towards politics and business(especially in the context or wrongdoing); news . People in my generation are satiated by wealth and privilege trickling down, or, in the lower income distribution, too busy struggling to survive to stay informed. For all that it irks me, at least a 60 year old Fox News crusader is interested in listening to what is going on. They are more often misinformed than my peers, who are all too often uninformed.

An uninformed populace is even easier to dupe, and to expect not to vote. It's the perfect fertilizer for degrading democracy further.
posted by constantinescharity at 1:25 PM on March 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


It was only a couple weeks ago that SB Nation showed us the current state of web-based 'longform' journalism. Yep, we're doomed.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:33 PM on March 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Traditionally, newspapers relied on subscriptions for just a fraction of their revenue; advertising kept the lights on. And it's the same for television.

I've read that in the US there are perhaps about a million people tops who are willing to subscribe and pay for content.


Except, you know, Netflix pretty clearly show that people will subscribe and that you don't need advertising to make television work. Netflix can make a TV episode for $1M on some small portion of everyone's subscription. Surely there is space for some his quality journalism produced the same way and for a Netflix of news.
posted by ssg at 1:36 PM on March 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


High hopes for that model, but it's pretty much the model that's just gone away for print isn't it?
posted by Artw at 1:41 PM on March 5, 2016


Also to what extent is Netflix paying wth subscription money and to what extent are investors footing the bill?
posted by Artw at 1:42 PM on March 5, 2016


>Except, you know, Netflix pretty clearly show that people will subscribe and that you don't need advertising to make television work.

I thought I was pretty clear that I was talking about print media.

AFAIK Netflix doesn't report on the news.
posted by My Dad at 1:50 PM on March 5, 2016


Mad props to investigative journalists who write engaging long-form articles and the organizations that house and print them.

But twenty years of Fox News, eight of The W Show, and current presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump prove beyond any doubt that American Journalism gave up right around Reagan o'clock.
posted by petebest at 1:51 PM on March 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Ha! Fox is old school legit respectable journalism compared with Breitbart, which is taking it's crown as the source of reality for half the country.

Hell, Brietbart isn't even what it used to be, these days they just reprint stories fed to them by fucking 4chan.
posted by Artw at 1:54 PM on March 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Was it here or on Twitter where I saw a link to a thing that argued that some of the best journalism in the US today is being done in industry trade journals, because their readership is still willing to pay good money for serious, informed reporting?

You probably saw this FPP, though that article was linked all over.
posted by edeezy at 2:21 PM on March 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Maybe twenty to twentyfive years ago, you'd have small city papers with career writers. Now you have patch.com and an intern covering the local stuff. And the interns have little idea what questions to ask, because they don't know the issues that well, or the histories of the various groups involved.
posted by zippy at 3:15 PM on March 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


American Journalism gave up right around Reagan o'clock

The founding myth of the Reaganauts was deregulation, and they started with the media. I have watched the effects for many years what looks to me like a slow motion multi car pileup.
There were plenty of reporters who were working class, didn't want to hang out with the elites, started on the police beat, and actually knew what was going on and who was who.
They reported, and they could write.
They're mostly gone.
See "Network".
posted by Alter Cocker at 3:55 PM on March 5, 2016 [14 favorites]


Re. the situation in Canada; Torstar just posted a loss of almost a quarter-billion dollars. Lately they've invested heavily in a 'tablet edition', which only works on tablets, not phones. Even when they try they end up on the wrong side of the technology curve.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 4:20 PM on March 5, 2016


High hopes for that model, but it's pretty much the model that's just gone away for print isn't it?

Not really. Print media, including newspapers and magazines, never really worked on the subscription model to cover the costs of content. Generally, that was covered by advertising and the subscription cost just covered the printing and distribution (if that!).

Also to what extent is Netflix paying wth subscription money and to what extent are investors footing the bill?

It's mostly subscribers, actually. Netflix took in $5B last year, $3.4B from subscribers in the US.

It really doesn't seem crazy to think there might be some possibility for something along those lines for journalism.
posted by ssg at 4:36 PM on March 5, 2016


Marshall McLuhan said 'you don't read a newspaper, you get into it like a hot bath every morning'.

Well, that's my contribution, Namaste.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:15 PM on March 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


the best journalism in the US today is being done in industry trade journals, because their readership is still willing to pay good money for serious, informed reporting

Maybe because they are still making good money? I imagine there would be more consumer support for news if wages stagnated less while housing and medical costs soared less.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:15 PM on March 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Most of what newspapers carried ten years ago was either advertising or lightly disguised advertising...
What are you talking about? Have you read an actual newspaper? This is trivially true in terms of square inches of paper, but breathtakingly cynical and weirdly ill-informed. Most newspaper writing is boring to outside observers, yeah, but strong as-impartial-as-it-can-be local coverage was the goddamn lifeblood of society for a long time -- and still is, where it hasn't been choked out by the newsstand equivalent of the [blink] tag.

This was the key point of the fifth season of The Wire: the myopia, awards fixation, celebrity culture, and profit-chasing of corporate news have dire consequences for civic institutions across the board, but it wasn't always that way, and needn't be that way forever (though I know which way I'm betting).
posted by waxbanks at 5:28 PM on March 5, 2016 [17 favorites]


I'm really disappointed with the lack of sympathy I see in some of these comments for people who have invested so much into a field they love and are now struggling due to layoffs.

I am a displaced journalist myself, and this is the second thread in two weeks in which I have felt personally poverty-shamed by the comments.

American jobs are disappearing, and all some of you can say is essentially "cry me a river, you think the world owes you a living, no one wants your fucking news anyway?"

I always thought that expression was for people who deliberately shirked work, not those of us who have worked our asses off and then been let go at our peak.

As far as wanting news, if you'd rather read clickbait stop bitching about it.

I would like to think we can do better.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 5:35 PM on March 5, 2016 [51 favorites]


So fuck the world and it'll all just be kings and peasants from now on, because that's all we deserve?
Fuck.


The Artw I know, albeit only from his years of posts and comments here, would not have ended that comment with a despair-filled "Fuck," but with the defiant challenge of "Fuck that!"

Hold fast and rally, my good man, and remember the words of the noble McGoohan. Replace 'kings' with wardens, and 'peasants' with prisoners, and this little speech by No. 6 seems relevant and reminds us that there is a third option - that of a freeman.

This part of the article is what disturbed me the most:
 I’m chatting with a longtime friend, a great investigative reporter who was pushed out of a big-city daily. She’s managed to land a new, well-paying job—but it’s not in journalism. A mutual colleague told me that “it’s the most hated job she never wanted to do.” I insist that my friend needs to find a way back someday, because she has stunning reportorial talent. “I don’t remember that person,” she interrupts sharply.
What disturbed me was my reaction to it - an equal combination of sympathy and callousness. The reasons for sympathy are obvious, but the callousness was unexpected. On one hand, there may have been very good reasons for it that we may never know, but on the other, an exchange was made - a "well-paying job" in exchange for "the most hated job she never wanted to do." While we only have this one paragraph to go on, it's possible to infer a great deal about her feelings about it from "I don’t remember that person, she interrupts sharply."

It's ridiculous, of course, to attempt to judge a person based on just the contents of that lone paragraph, but it ended up revealing what was really disturbing me about the whole thing - that I never, ever, want to find myself sharply interrupting a similar line of inquiry one day with the words “I don’t remember that person.”
posted by chambers at 7:15 PM on March 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


Still waiting for the Great American Novels they were all going to produce.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:16 PM on March 5, 2016


Was it here or on Twitter where I saw a link to a thing that argued that some of the best journalism in the US today is being done in industry trade journals, because their readership is still willing to pay good money for serious, informed reporting?

I actually was going to report two things I noticed at a contemporary art museum today.

1. The weird art, fashion, essay, and zine press seems to be thriving, with multiple glossy magazines full of what basically amount to strange Instagram photos.

2. The one gallery where the most people seemed to stop, mesmerized, for a while was the one with brief textual stories on the walls. There is still such power in a well-told story.

Anyway, hello from another resident former journalist who got laid off and is now doing something peripherally related in a far better environment.
posted by limeonaire at 8:02 PM on March 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


The day after a manager told her she was being let go, she won a journalism award.

P.S. The last thing I worked on in journalism won an award, too. And my former newsroom is more white and male than ever now. The people I used to know there who were let go like me or who left shortly thereafter are mostly women and/or people of color. We are the first casualties of management's failure to monetize what we create.
posted by limeonaire at 8:26 PM on March 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm really disappointed with the lack of sympathy I see in some of these comments for people who have invested so much into a field they love and are now struggling due to layoffs.


For Fuck's Sake. Where were these people when working class jobs were disappearing? Embrace the Suck(ing Sound.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:41 PM on March 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is the life story of many people close to me. The frustration is that there are so many extremely wise, accomplished, kick-ass, crackerjack, accomplished journalists out there ready and eager to work, but there is no work for them. There is no marketplace structure to sustain them. Most of the powerhouse journalists I have known have migrated into the realms of PR, public affairs, marketing, online branding, special-interest freelancing (read: tell 'em what they want to hear, i.e., college mags, industry rags, etc) and the like. They do all right at that stuff, but it's not in the public service in the same way, and it is a waste of many of their investigative and analytical talents.
posted by Miko at 8:42 PM on March 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Where were these people when working class jobs were disappearing?

I mean, it's not like you learned about those jobs disappearing by divining it, or something.
posted by teponaztli at 8:51 PM on March 5, 2016 [27 favorites]


It's all very easy to say "get with the program, cover social media, write for online journals, blah blah" but part of what is lost with the death of the major journalism-subsidizing institutions we knew as "newspapers" is local accountability. Buzzfeed, Vox, HuffPo are not giving anyone that. Spotlight was a great investigative story, yeah, but you know what? It was also a local news story, that involved showing up to routine court proceedings, working local contacts, using local archives and local document sources, and traveling to specific sites doing door-to-door research and attending services and sitting at kitchen tables.

There are many critical stories in US journalistic history that were at their heart, or began as, local stories. That includes Superfund sites and disease epidemics, drug cartels, AIDS breakouts, banking crises, land grabs, real-estate swindles, murder trials...you could go on and on. Watergate was first reported as a local burglary. It was uncovered because Woodward, experienced in court reporting, went to the arraignment, heard a passing mention of a CIA connection, and started digging on the burglars' identities.

Most stories start locally. A complex of cancer patients. A pattern of corrupt mortgages. An attempt to vote denied. A farm where migrant workers seem to be exploited. A van full of girls leading to a human trafficking bust. A cross burning on a lawn. A witch hunt that wrongly convicts an innocent suspect in a backwater town. News happens in a place. What we're unaware of is all the important information we're misssing out on - the stories that will never be broken - because no journalist is there. No entry-level journalist is sitting in some boring town council procedural meeting or going through some boring local nonprofit annual report or listening to some boring crime log because it's journalistic routine and you have to - and applying the simple human intelligence to raise a finger to the city editor and say "It seems like maybe something is going on here." We're missing hundreds, thousands of these stories. Stories that would have regional and national import and also have impact on our health, our laws, our land use, our educations, our access to justice.

For more, I recommend this piece Life After Patch.com: A Newspaper Editor Returns to Newsprint. What's going to suck in future is realizing not how much the change to "free/mium" model web media gutted the journalistic business model, but how readily and gleefully people danced self-righteously up and down about it. The task is only partly to find a way to support investigative long-form on obviously big important issues with a national profile. It's how to support the boring, routine, procedural, first tier of local-level journalism where those stories have always actually originated.
posted by Miko at 9:10 PM on March 5, 2016 [33 favorites]


what is lost with the death of the major journalism-subsidizing institutions we knew as "newspapers" is local accountability

This, exactly. I just retired to a very small town in a rural county, and am shocked at how hard it is to find what's going on.
Local politics, crime - other than "police log" stuff - even big deal stories like police shootings, drug roundups, whacko gunshot incidents ( a busy little town) ; almost radio silence in the local papers, while the metro rag (Oregonian) sends a reporter out from four hours away and gets basic facts.
Reporting used to be a working class job itself - my old man covered Port Angeles in the thirties - before it became glamorous.
WE lose.
Digital media isn't going away, but damn there just has to be some model besides adver-frickin-tising.
No, I don't know either.
posted by Alter Cocker at 9:33 PM on March 5, 2016 [10 favorites]


A year ago I was at a crossroads in my career. I was working on the edge of journalism, at an Gawker-style online publication, and I was also a web developer, writing code.
Over the wide range of interviews I conducted, there was a strong sense that women are being downsized with greater frequency than men.
I saw how women were treated by journalism. I saw that most journalists were women and yet the head honchos were all white men. I saw older women treated like dirt even though they were incredibly talented. I saw white men who wrote trash paid well and with great job security. I saw white men getting aware with harassment. And some of the problems the industry had were because of their stagnant leadership. It's like "hey let's hire my friend Bill from Harvard instead of some up and coming person more in touch with digital media."

Programming is supposedly the industry with the sexism problem, but honestly there are a lot of prominent well-paid women in web development and there is greater awareness of sexual harassment being an issue.

So it's no mystery what I chose. And based on women writer FB groups I'm in, plenty of women are still writing though and making money from it, even if it's less secure and more of a hustle. If the old school newsrooms have to burn to the ground to eliminate the rampant sexism, racism and classism they are full of, I'm all for it. There will be plenty of great women to rebuild media.
posted by melissam at 9:52 PM on March 5, 2016 [11 favorites]


Beethoven's Sith: It's the crappy Randian libertarian sewage that's seeped into the lifeblood of this country. "To afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted" sounds like some sort dirty hippy SJW babble to too many now. My family were sort of like cave-people culturally, but growing up we had 4 dailies in our house every day (well, one didn't have a Sunday edition):
The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Daily News, and the Chicago American (which I also delivered). They are missed. (Still get the Trib, but, meh).
posted by Chitownfats at 10:20 PM on March 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


(Still get the Trib, but, meh).

Well exactly. The Bain Capitals of the publishing industries have spent decades eating each other and pretending to build a house on crap. As it's sinking they have the nerve to look panicked. They're not reporters or journalists. They're upper management who only benefit from a hobnob.

True journalism isn't moving to "social media" - note the exponential increase of lazy bastards using facebook likes or tweets as a "source" ffs, but not to digress. Long form investigative reporting s in the woods right now, but every so often they howl and are heard. They will be back and in great numbers. Hang in there press hats! Our technical difficulties are being addressed . . . if very slowly.
posted by petebest at 6:17 AM on March 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've been a journalist, columnist and editor at an independent media outlet for about ten years now. We're print and online, and rely entirely on ad revenue for income. What I've noticed is that The Public is not a monolith. Short, quirky pieces and opinion pieces get loads of traffic, but longer investigative pieces get a far more positive reception. So we try and do it all. In essence, the revenue from online mind candy is what funds our ability to do longer pieces.

I've been reading about the death of print media and the dumbing down of readers for like 15 years now. In my experience, what I'm seeing instead is standards are shifting, especially as whistleblowers and citizen reporting are creating vast wealths of data to mine. Journalists are no longer gatekeepers so much as curators - organizing raw data into more parsable forms.

The mistake some outlets are making is confusing utilizing social media with imitating social media. Readers tend to be insulted when media outlets are blatantly clickbaiting. There is still a vibrant audience for actual, real journalism; you do though have to work harder, produce more content, and live up to increasingly higher standards. Journalism isn't dying; it's evolving. Those of us in the business have to longtail this thing rather than take an either/or approach.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:53 AM on March 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


Journalism isn't dying; it's evolving

I like your optimism, but I think it's a hard point to argue. There are just many fewer outlets and many fewer reporting jobs, especially at a living wage. The remaining fraction of news organizations might be still standing and innovating new models, but I think it is very hard to argue that there isn't an overall loss of comprehensive coverage and depth due to the simple shrinking in volume. For many communities served now by only a state-wide daily, Craigslist, and a neighborhood Facebook page, it has already died. That doesn't mean new and interesting models won't emerge, but it's been a terrible trade-off.
posted by Miko at 8:04 AM on March 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


the evidence has shown that TV news, bloggers, and citizens with iPhones are poor substitutes for professional journalists

I will just gently point out here that citizens with iPhones have done an incredible job exposing news stories that the news media seems to have a large blind spot for (the militarization of police, unjustified police shootings, and huge fees and fines imposed on communities like Ferguson by the police). It shouldn't have taken until Ferguson for the media to wake up to the fact that there is no official record of police shootings, and the media should have long ago stopped reporting police union press releases as fact rather than heavily spun and slanted PR.

Why that is, I don't know. A long running dearth of diverse perspectives in newsrooms? The fact that a media company is dependent on revenue and has different incentives than just some random person equipped with an iPhone?
posted by sallybrown at 8:17 AM on March 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


As major networks continue to ax their investigative teams and a journalism degree has become virtually meaningless, yes, big media outlets are in a slow motion collapse. It's not optimism I'm speaking from entirely here, though. I've been watching the field I work in decentralize at an accelerating pace. As the big guys stumble and falter, the rest of us are scrambling to stake our claims on seas of eyeballs. It's a bit chaotic, but our web traffic and feedback tells me there's still a rich market for good reporting.

Now, that said, I am fully cognizant it's a tough field to break into for a living wage. And personally, I think a big reason for that is the internship system. But that's a whooole other rant.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:19 AM on March 6, 2016


It was an underpaid field even before internships were rampant. It has never paid well; journalism has never been a way to make a lot of money. I can speak from family experience and my own in the late 80s/early 90s - there wasn't a giant wave of interns yet, and very few J-school folks either. As someone above pointed out, it was really a working-class job in many respects, and paid like one. Many of the veteran reporters I knew and worked with had no college degree - some had military communications training, some had community college 2 year degrees, but it was a "learn on the job" industry until it became increasingly professionalized in the 90s, as consolidation proceeded apace to, I think, the field's massive detriment.
posted by Miko at 8:38 AM on March 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's still very much like that, with very few exceptions. I just think the interning machine is doing a fantastic job of helping keep wages low.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 10:07 AM on March 6, 2016


That's true everywhere, but as someone in an industry with that same problem, what it reflects is undercapitalization more than the internship system. There's only one way to solve that: get bigger budgets.
posted by Miko at 11:21 AM on March 6, 2016


Emphatically agree. But another thing is how the budget is used. A few years ago, a major newspaper here laid off a few dozen journalists in order to afford paying a big-name dude to be their new co-editor. They could do this because hey, there's always interns. And this isn't even the only example. It's really frustrating to see this kind of lopsided approach, but it's somewhat satisfying that the paper in question has been losing readers by the truckload ever since they pulled that stunt.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:40 AM on March 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


That is a mistake. One of the factors behind the J-school "professionalization" of newspapering has been the disastrous influence of MBA thinking in media management. That's a big part of it. There has been a lot of overconfidence in personality and glitz and the superiority of practices imported from conventional business world over the unglamorous process of generating news material.
posted by Miko at 11:43 AM on March 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


what is lost with the death of the major journalism-subsidizing institutions we knew as "newspapers" is local accountability

This was already lost. Even your spotlight example included the local paper barely covering the story initially which the movie quite responsibly and painfully highlighted.

In Chicago, the Laquan McDonald murder by cop and subsequent coverup story was shopped to all the major media outlets and they were not interested!

Now that is maybe not a journalist failure but instead management and ownership but I think that people are not celebrating the demise of reporting but instead the demise of their traditional gatekeepers overlords.
posted by srboisvert at 11:43 AM on March 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


That is a mistake. One of the factors behind the J-school "professionalization" of newspapering has been the disastrous influence of MBA thinking in media management. That's a big part of it. There has been a lot of overconfidence in personality and glitz and the superiority of practices imported from conventional business world over the unglamorous process of generating news material.
And look out, because that's starting to happen with universities, too. Pretty soon, instead of classes, they'll be delivering all your MOOC content in listicle form.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:51 AM on March 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Spotlight is just a famous example and one already raised in thread. There are many more, hundreds, probably, in every local coverage area.

the demise of their traditional gatekeepers overlords.

Yeah, I think this kind of thinking is going to prove seriously shortsighted. I'm not saying you don't need people on the streets with cameras, but not everything goes down in hails of bullets and flames and spurs people to document events. Many important stories happen slowly, and they are discovered in documents and public routines. Citizen journalists have proved very uninterested in these sorts of projects. You need both people who spot events happening and raise red flags and people who put in the hours and have the capability to follow routines, do sophisticated research tenaxiously, analyze, and find patterns.
posted by Miko at 11:52 AM on March 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Citizen journalists have proved very uninterested in these sorts of projects. You need both people who spot events happening and raise red flags and people who put in the hours and have the capability to follow routines, do sophisticated research tenaxiously, analyze, and find patterns.

Yes but those people are no longer at the newspapers and haven't been for quite some time. The Barbara Byrd CPS contract scandal was also discovered by a determined reporter who work at an alternative media source.

So the two biggest local political scandals in Chicago last year were broken by people outside of the print media majors who had far fewer resources.

The papers and tv stations only reluctantly covered them once others had forced them into public awareness.

I see the problem as being driven by the major media's abandoning of their role rather than the role abandoning them. People still want these stories. People are still interested in corruption and long running scandals. Maybe even more than ever before. Mass market media however isn't interested in providing it for a number of reasons ranging from corporate coziness with power to the cost of investigations with potential legal problems in the mix as well.
posted by srboisvert at 1:40 PM on March 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


There is good stuff happening. Propublica is great. Buzzfeed and Huffpost are channeling a tiny fraction of their billions into real reporting. Sites like TYT are succeeding at paid opinion journalism. Industry specific news is doing very well. The giants, like the NYT, The Economist and the Wall Street Journal are bigger than ever. Local nonprofit sites like Minnpost are growing. NPR is doing very well in almost every market.

It's not the same as when a newspaper was basically a license to print money, and they could spend lots of it on non-profitable stuff like local investigative reporting. That's lead to a very real gap in the market. I do think someone will figure out eventually though.
posted by miyabo at 1:44 PM on March 6, 2016


I mean, aside from the professional concerns, and aside from the problem of capitalism, the whole internet is struggling with this problem. Especialy digital media, I mean. How do you make money from porn when there's free porn online? Anything that has a similar financial pattern - high production cost, zero marginal cost - is sinking. That includes music, books, even TV. CBS and FOX are trying to offer subscription content. (Tho I think that's mostly gravy for them; they're still making bank on advertising.)

Newspapers have the same pattern as digital media, but they're also kind of like social media, in that they're offering a service - access to their news - for free. Tumblr is currently struggling to make money, trying to copy Facebook. And no one has figured out how to make money except by ads.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 2:03 PM on March 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


And capitalism trends towards monopoly as its endgame.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 2:04 PM on March 6, 2016


Ugh I too am a former journalist. I don't know anyone who's getting paid well for journalism jobs anymore, especially locally.

The Dallas Morning News on Glassdoor (note: login required to see data) lists the following salaries:

Sales Manager - $113,978
Editor - $65,802
Reporter - $60,448
Staff Writer - $47,627
Journalist - $39,500

Seriously, this is all depending on the local cost of living but nobody's getting rich.

In 2015, 30 veteran staff members "whose combined ages and years of experience were 60 or greater" were offered staggered buyouts to leave the business. It was the third round of veteran staff layoffs/forced early retirement buyouts since 2006.

I mean, the more seasoned you are, the better then your local connections are, your access to business, legal and law enforcement resources are stronger and more extensive, your understanding of the audience allows you to know exactly what will and won't engage readership and you seldom miss a deadline.

We're literally paying people to leave who know how to do their jobs and replacing them with student interns and bloggers. I shudder to think about the state of fact-checking these days -- in many cases smaller papers end up using staff to rewrite press releases and fill in the rest with ads, syndicated columns and AP wire reruns because they literally won't pay anyone to fact-check. Proofreading seems to be a non-issue, too, but moreso on the digital side.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:36 PM on March 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


I should also add that I wake up with a copy of the damned paper in my yard/driveway every day, because they literally give it away for free.

It's the only way they can keep readership numbers up high enough to garner national ad sales in print anymore, I'm guessing.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:40 PM on March 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


"I always thought that expression was for people who deliberately shirked work, not those of us who have worked our asses off and then been let go at our peak."

Apparently now it's for those that shirked work, for those that were let go when the economy engineered the jobs out from under them, and pretty much anyone who went to college for a non-STEM field and now would like to not spend their lives asking people if they desire deep-fried potato sticks with their meal.
posted by mephron at 7:21 PM on March 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


state of fact-checking these days

Few newspapers have ever had fact-checkers; just the majors.
The presumption has long been that part of being a reporter is conducting your own verification. Fact-checkers are used when writers may not have verification and research skills, for instance, at magazines.
posted by Miko at 9:15 PM on March 6, 2016


One editor of a major national publication, who himself is well over 40, confided to me that he’s reluctant to hire older journalists, that “they’re stuck in the mentality of doing one story a week” and not willing to use social media.
That's interesting to hear from someone in the print business. As a private-sector radio alumnus, I can tell you my broadcast peers of that vintage were working on far more than even one story a day.

When you have people turning out several stories a day, they are merely rehashing stories that have already been told, or worse, rewriting press releases or writing opinion pieces about the latest manufactured news of the day.
Or you have reporters quickly assessing what's important for the listener/reader/viewer. Yes, there's a need for longer-form, longer-digging journalism, but there is room for a mix of that and "city council met last night - they agreed to crank up your taxes x % - that'll mean $y more a year" journalism.
posted by milnews.ca at 8:01 AM on March 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


AFAIK Netflix doesn't report on the news.
Not conventionally, but Making a Murderer shows that people will watch some of their non-fiction original content.
posted by soelo at 10:09 AM on March 7, 2016


As a private-sector radio alumnus, I can tell you my broadcast peers of that vintage were working on far more than even one story a day

Certainly everyone I know in print has been churning out multiple stories per week, if not per day, for 20 years. One of my friends is practically writing the entire weekly he works for - upwards of 15 stories a week. So that's BS - at least for basic reporting. In-depth stories, of course, take more research so they take longer. But this does not ring true to me.
posted by Miko at 10:20 AM on March 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ain't crying for corporate news myself. If they wanted to cover real stories then they should've covered real stories, like oh ll those stories wikileaks kept breaking.

An informative perspective is ioerror's comments on the Guardian's worthlessness around 73 min into this.

Anyways, it's true readers won't pay for the news since they can get that for free everywhere. An organization called Blendle has however demonstrated rather conclusively that users actually do happily pay for analysis though. As I suppose has the Economist.

Amongst our ideas for proof-of-concept payment companies based on GNU Taler is anonymous micro-payments from readers to investigative reporter bloggers.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:18 PM on March 14, 2016


« Older Early Computers: Applications, Computer Graphics...   |   because what more could you want? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments