Journalism: of sell-outs and hand-outs

by Mathew on January 25, 2008 · 8 comments

Is this really the best we can do for a Friday frenzy on Techmeme? Scoble decides to put ads on his blog — woop-de-frickin-doo. If someone wants to advertise on the Scobleizer’s blog, they can go right ahead. I certainly don’t think it’s going to affect anyone’s perceptions of whether what Robert does is actual journalism or not. Or maybe Scoble and other bloggers should receive some kind of government support, like the tall foreheads at Davos were apparently discussing when Mike Arrington was there.

Is the practice of journalism in danger? Hardly. If anything, there’s more of it going on all the time, depending on how you define the term (and no, I’m not including Digg). Sure the newspaper — and I emphasize the term *paper* — business might be having a rough time, although plenty of people have pointed out that Sam Zell and Rupert Murdoch seem to see the newspaper business as pretty appealing, even if they are probably going to fire a whole bunch of people in the process.

Columbia Journalism School dean Nick Leman makes a half-hearted case for government support of the media in a response to Forbes magazine’s piece from Davos, noting that the BBC is government funded (with the money coming from a TV tax), and that PBS and other public media play a role. But it’s one thing to point to the BBC and PBS as a success — which some might argue with — and another to argue that the government should actively get into financing the journalism business.

If people want long-form, investigative journalism then I assume they will indicate that desire in the traditional way: by reading it, and in some cases even paying for it. The idea that government support is required because some newspapers aren’t making 30-per-cent returns on invested capital the way they used to is ridiculous.

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