Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Troubles Facing Journalism

These are observations, I don't claim to be smart enough to figure out all the answers.

Imagine- if I owned a sandwich shop, and gave away my sandwiches for free, why would anyone buy them from me?

If I owned a news outlet and put all my material online, tweeting key stories even before I printed or broadcast them,  posting whole stories before they get printed or broadcast, why would anyone watch or read material on my main outlet when and how I want them to?

That is the kind of dilemma facing journalism today.
Almost daily we see stories of downsizing and job cuts in journalism
This is the dark downside of the digital revolution.

Copyright, once jealously guarded barely exists now,  ownership of material reduced to smoke on the wind, belonging to no one.

Gone are the days when a publisher would go after an interloper for “stealing our stuff”

Instead they basically give it away, hoping some advertiser will come along and buy a piece of the swirling smoke in the internet air.

Then they wonder why they are losing money, so they amputate, they cut jobs, diversity of thought, and quality of content.

Left with a thinning product and no idea what to do about it, there is a downward spiral that produces more and more "easy news" or junk, and less and less content that sets outlets apart.

The concept of making internet users pay has been tried, and has mostly failed.

So the question is, what is the product worth?
Increasingly not enough, or not much, that’s where we are at.

It would seem to make sense that the answer should be a determination to make the product worth more, and not give it away.

There may be a relatively bright future for current events programs like the CBC’s Fifth Estate, and CTV’s W-5, where usually the program is heavily promoted and then airs before the real content material is posted online.

More of that kind of approach to content could be helpful, if publishers of material could back off the lure of trying first to be internet stars, and show people more of what they have done, and less of what they are doing.

Make more value in the product through quality of content, and don’t give it away.

But, if not---here’s a sandwich, take one, they’re free.


  1. Pretty much hit it right. There are other problems for the news outlets as well. First they are tweeting and facebooking which cheapens the value of the product. There are all kinds of people doing the same thing with no credentials If I can't trust untrained people to be accurate and stories are coming from news outlets in the same way credibility is in question. The worst thing the networks have done is turn NEWS into an entertainment package. I for one get mad as hell when I am confronted with crap that has nothing to do with news. So this giant pool (internet) of untrained self interest self proclaimed news people are ones to compete with. How to do that tell the truth and research material before its on the screen. You don't compete by doing the same crappy job they do. The news industry TV Radio Paper and even credible blogs better have a discussion or we will see people like Trump considered normal. As a friend of mine says if you are going to drown the sailors on a ship of fools you have to sink the ship.

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  3. I'm with you, Biro - to a point. But I look at how local radio, TV and newspapers failed to adapt to the internet onslaught, not dealing with the fact their world had changed, with folks no longer making an appointment to get the news. Sure, they still have aging legacy audiences, but they did not make much of an effort - or spend much money - to see where everyone else was getting their news. The other trend is people dumping thir cable. Maybe TV - as we know it, is done. It's really expensive
    and the audience is going down the drain. Maybe Bell and CBC need to become online companies. We should talk next time we're down your way.