“Why Journalists Deserve Low Pay!” – IF they don’t adapt!

Check out this article at the Christian Science Monitor claiming that “Journalists deserve low pay”. (via @Journalismnews on Twitter)

So after going through the article as a whole, this is a case of a scandalous headline leading to an article not the least bit as scandalous.  Robert G. Picard basically states what has been said many times: Journalists need to adapt and become more consumer-oriented and entrepreneurial…but they are still worthy of discussion and there are a couple of things Picard misses out on:

The “Truth”-Factor

… truth a value in itself? Reminds me of the debate and the post I had on Jay Rosen’s article on “He said, she said” journalism just some weeks ago.

Picard is apparently one of oh so many (non.humanities, eg. economic) journalists who fail to see that by reporting (using rhetoric and language symbols) journalists create truth, giving people means and metaphors to understand complex processes etc.

If truth (and beauty) are indeed valuable themselves, journalists have their fair share in it!

Uniqueness and Specialization

Picard says about daily newspapers:

… they can emphasize uniqueness. The Boston Globe, for example, could become the national leader in education and health reporting because of the multitude of higher education and medical institutions in its coverage area. Not only would it make the paper more valuable to readers, but it could sell that coverage to other publications. Similarly, The Dallas Morning News could provide specialized coverage of oil and energy, The Des Moines Register could become the leader in agricultural news; and the Chicago Tribune in airline and aircraft coverage. Every paper will have to be the undisputed leader in terms of their quality and quantity of local news.

He misses a few things here though.

1. These papers already ARE specialized. They have a section that reports on local events. What they need to do is to build on this specialty.

When I interned at an overregional newspaper, the editor said to me: the reason why our subscribers read the paper is the local part – they want to know about their grandchildren’s schools and the events at their interest clubs. With the developments in hyperlocal reporting, I am sorry for dismissing his claim.

2. Other than locality, there simply aren’t enough specialty topics to cover and it will be impossible for every newspaper to find one of these specialties that they can excell in.

3. If ONE paper monopolizes a topic, the news industry will come to the same problem it has now: Monopoly collapses, other sources appear, downward spiral continues!

Bottom Line:

I actually have to agree that newsorganizations aren’t doing a good job at providing what people actually want to know about. This is one of the reasons why I like spot.us: People can chose what they want to get reported!

My Own Case:

You can vote on questions for spot-us founder David Cohn here until Wednesday 11:59 pm (PST) and help to decide what questions “Digidave” will answer for me.

    • lisahr
    • May 21st, 2009

    It was a bit of a letdown to get to the end of the piece and discovered that an organized monopoly was his solution. Really? That’s the best idea Oxford can offer up these days? Here in New Brunswick (a tiny province on the eastern side of Canada), the Irving family, the second wealthiest in the country, own all the daily newspapers plus most of the weeklies. The newspapers are one unit of a vertically-integrated privately-held corporation that also owns Canada’s largest oil refinery, the largest forestry products company in Atlantic Canada, the trucking and shipping firm, a railroad and a bunch of other companies (Rumoured to number close to 300 companies).
    We live monopoly news here in NB and it is neither an economic nor social nirvana.

    My problem with the CSM piece was he dismissed quite early in it that old journalism saw that we are here to serve ‘the public good’, arguing we’re used that to prop up an old industry model. Perhaps, but ‘the public good’ remains as important to the survival of journalism as food safety is to McDonalds. It is our guarantee of quality and that what we offer to consumers/readers/viewers can be trusted.

    That is the non-commodity service Picard alludes to in his piece.

  1. May 20th, 2009

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