Can you future-proof newspapers? Rupert Murdoch says his NewsCorp will soon start charging for news. Perhaps it might work – he does have some good papers amid the dross – but it would go against the Internet’s dictum of being free and ungovernable. There have been many site wrecks where charging has been attempted and failed. It may work on tightly focused interests such as financial information but there is an public expectation that news should be free.
The expanding power of the blogsphere will meet some of the gap as newspapers wither. Sites including this one do provide some good information. But citizen journalism is not the same as independent journalism. At the 25th anniversary forum of the CPIT Broadcasting School, the academic blogger Radical Martini acknowledged the volume of cell phone images out of the Iran protests but said it was impossible to ascertain their authenticity, location and write a comprehensible news story based solely on the material received. You need a reporter on the spot to do that best.
As a recovering journalist, I continue to value good journalism and generally respect those who work hard to uphold its values. I favour cock up over conspiracy when it comes to news judgement and errors, though the pressure is explicit to run stories that rate rather those that count.
Making it worse, I am detecting a crisis of identity among good mid-career journalists, particularly but not exclusively in newspapers, who are unsure if there is a job for them within journalism until their retirement. This is feeding into people considering journalism as a career.
All of this leads into the increasing importance of television and radio journalism and how we achieve that into, sadly, an increasingly print-free New Zealand. But that’s a separate blog…