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Are job cuts death knell for journalism?

Interesting response to an article by Mediawatch on whether job cuts are signalling the end of American newspapers:

Greg Delzer links it up, Steve Smith says the article is interesting but doesn't deal with the real issue (Smith, the editor of Spokesman Review, which claims to be the most transparent newspaper in the US, visited Oslo a few months back. My article on the talk he gave about the newspaper's policy on transparency is here, in Norwegian). Steve says:

And why should we be surprised? Newspapers are, fundamentally, 18th and 19th century technological answers to the need for news and information for the mass audiences developed during and after the industrial revolution.

Why should any of us expect that newspapers, as they existed in the 20th Century, can survive well into the 21st as the rest of the information universe expands at Einsteinian rates?

The journalist who devotes himself to saving newspapers, as a medium, may well be doomed to a career of disappointment and failure.

Our challenge isn't to save newspapers, it is to save newspaper journalism and the values that are at its foundation.

Despite the semi-hysterical ravings of those who see the blogosphere as the second (third and fourth coming), the fact is newspaper journalism (when it works) provides what no other news source can provide -- factual information, context, depth, skepticism, the vital information that oils the gears of democracy, the fourth estate watchdog function that keeps government honest. Consumers actually value those qualities, probably more than they value newspapers.

In my view, we ought to be striving to make sure the values of our craft are embodied in the new media. If that happens, it will matter less, and certainly bother us less, if newspapers become yesterday's news.

In the comment section, Ken Paulman answers Steve's response to Greg thus (invoking a sentimet that surely runs parallell to Nick Davies' argument in "Flat Earth News) :

If the basic 'shoe leather' investigative reporters are consigned to the scrap heap - who'll get the by-line?

Most likely government and corporate PR flacks.

There have already been cases of TV stations (none here that I'm aware of) running prepackaged Video News Releases put together by businesses. They look, sound a feel like a news report, but are designed to push a product.

But I don't think it's going to come to that, because there is still a significant segment of the population that won't let it happen. That is, as long as we're able to do a better job explaining what it is that we do here and how it differs from the information machines financed by corporations and political think tanks.....


Hi Kristine

Agree wholeheartedly with this, journalism isn't the problem, it is the paper bit that it.

But I would add that whilst innovation is occurring in the newsroom, the same can't be said from the ad department.

I've just written on another comment, I wonder if a newspaper owner will ever be brave enough to get rid of most of its ad sales team and get in people who are aware of online advertising and its possibilities?

For example, a business that runs an affiliate marketing system.

All the best

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