Excuse me, didn’t we already reinvent journalism?

by Carl Natale on June 15, 2010

Flickr photo by garethjmsaunders

Flickr photo by garethjmsaunders

The Media Cache blog on NYTimes.com has a report on how  the government wants to stimulate.

PARIS — The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is looking for ways to “support the reinvention of journalism.” Possible measures to help the troubled U.S. news business, outlined in a paper published last month and scheduled to be discussed at a meeting Tuesday, include public subsidies, charity and stronger copyright protection.

The paper mentioned is “Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism.” To be honest, I haven’t read it yet. I’m planning to do so today and follow up with what I hope passes for journalism-like analysis. So I admit what I write today isn’t exactly journalism.

Which is my point. It seems to me we already reinvented journalism.

People don’t just turn to newspapers and broadcast for news. They’re finding it Twitter streams, Facebook profiles and blogs like this.

No, it’s not what a lot of journalists call Journalism.

And that’s the problem.

News consumers (sorry, we can’t just think of them as simply readers when we discuss the economics of journalism) have more choices for news sources and what they consider news. Newspapers have more limited resources. They can’t provide everything that their consumers want.

Traditional journalists want no part of this. They’re trained to deliver one type of news. Sure they brag about writers learning to shoot video. That’s commendable. But it’s the same news.

News consumers are looking for supermarket deals, traffic reports, jokes, instructional content, newspaper stories, analysis and first-person slices of life. Some of this you can find in newspaper pages. You can find more of it in online social networks.

If journalists embrace these networks and provide more choices for news, they can’t provide these new choices for news and realize the same profit margins they used to build newspapers and television stations. These are business models that in a large part depend on economies of scale.

Note that this FTC paper isn’t supposed to represent any kind of policy statement or position. It’s goal is to spark discussion.

Mission accomplished.

Just search for “Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism” on the Web. There’s plenty of discussion.

That ladies and gentlemen is what journalism reinvented looks like.

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