Some career journalists must feel like disenfranchised aristocracy. The high overhead of printing and distribution used to make quality content as rare, and therefore as valuable, as gold. But today, journalism is far less exclusive. In principle, my audience is the same as the New York Times’.
Staring today’s democratic journalism in the eyes, the Nieman Foundation’s fall issue, serving journalism at Harvard University, asks if and how journalism as an industry can again differentiate itself, and how we can get back to making some do-re-mi.
Media guru (consultant) Robert Picard thinks journalists must begin earning their keep all over again. Plenty of industries have been replaced by new technologies, so what makes journalism so special? Reporters don’t even possess knowledge of a specialized skill—plumbers and electricians are laughing all the way to the bank—but rather have benefited from technology of a more limited scope than today’s Internet. Today journalists seem replaceable with educated, articulate people.
However, educated and articulate people are not necessarily one in the same with the public (need I say healthcare?).
A core value of journalism is to serve the public interest, but the public seems unconcerned about their most immediate interest—their local communities. Conversely, local reporting is just the kind of niche product not subject to gross re-reporting on every Internet media platform.
News culture is being homogenized. Google News lists lots of sources for the same (inter)national news event which all report basically the same facts, while at the same time local papers are going under. The true crisis of journalism is the replacement of local communities by national and international virtual ones.
Would the public pay for local/specialized news content online?