An Entertainment Hodge-Podge

The Future of Journalism-Is it worth Saving? | September 5, 2009

This semester I am taking two journalism classes. And, a scary, common, reoccurring theme keeps creeping into our discussions: What is going to happen to journalism?

My first assignment for my journalism II class was to read a MotherJones pieces titled “Black and White is dead all over.” The article lists facts that I find incredible horrifying and worrisome.

Nearly 1 in 5 newspaper journalists has lost his or her job since 2001,” wrote David Gilson, author of the article. These aren’t good prospects for my future.

But, what is even more frightening is the loss of coverage. “1/3 fewer newspaper reporters are dedicated to covering state capitols today than in 2003,” and “nearly 2/3 of newspaper executives say they’ve cut foreign coverage in the past 3 years.”

So, how do we save journalism?

Walter Isaacson from Time Magazine suggested a iTunes approach in his article “How to Save Your Newspaper.” Instead of giving away news for free on the internet, the papers could charge $0.99 per piece. But, even though iTunes is a great success, the music business is also suffering from the same problems as journalism. Music artists are finding it harder to get people to pay for music, so would they pay for news? Knowing America, one person would pay for it, and then copy it into his blog, where everyone could read it.

A classmate suggested a Netflix approach, where you pay a small monthly fee. But, if the New York Times starts charging, readers will start reading the free Washington Post. It seems that the only way that model might work is if all newspapers did it at the same time, but the same blog problem would still exist.

However, we could begin going the way of ProPublica or the soon to emerge Texas Tribune. These news organizations have chosen a completely online, non-profit model. But, other problems could emerge. Who’s to say that donors don’t try to become too involved in the news or that the recessions stops donations? Our news shouldn’t stop because our economy is going through rough times. (Yes, these would be extreme cases, but they are still something to consider.)

So, what should we do to save journalism?

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