Category Archives: Abstract

Paying for news

Nontraditional information sources are challenging the value of journalism from traditional newspaper companies, and society as a whole is pointing to the Internet and changing technologies for killing an industry.
With the threat of new media, traditional journalists have spent many words urging new ideas about how traditional journalism companies can make money in a new era. Most newspaper executives continue to say they can do more with less.
Amid the buzz, it’s time to ask a different question. Instead of journalism organizations asking how they can fund their journalism, we need to ask how societies should pay for journalism. That question allows broader analysis and perhaps room for new ideas.
For a class paper, I surveyed recent history of the newspaper business and reviewed experiments in information gathering and sharing on the Internet. A pdf of the paper is linked at the end of this post.
Sources included journalism books: Philip Meyer’s “The Vanishing Newspaper,” Robert G. Picard’s “Commercialism and Newspaper Quality” in the Newspaper Research Journal and the websites of new experiments, from large nonprofits to neighborhood blogs. I asked some neighborhood volunteers for their ideas about how society should pay for journalism.
The results give us reason to hope. Alternatives exist to information solely dependent upon retail advertisers. And it’s clear, as it always was, that society should judge the quality of journalism by paying close attention to the information and money sources.
Philip Meyer in “The Vanishing Newspaper” tried to link quality of journalism with business success. He concluded he could not pinpoint a direct connection, but he was hopeful that varied experimentation would allow truth and fairness to emerge.
“Natural selection will do the job. Maybe we can help it along,” he said.
With a close eye, maybe we can.
Paying for news