The survival of journalism: 10 simple facts

“The thing that worries me most at the moment about the condition of journalism is, frankly, who’s going to pay for the journalists and the journalism in 10 years’ time? Teenagers, people in their twenties, even in their late twenties, have now got to the position where they wouldn’t pay for news. They expect their news to be free, they expect it to be in a free newspaper on the underground or at the bus station or, more often, they expect it to be a free good on their laptops. My kids wouldn’t dream of buying a newspaper — and we are a newspaper household.” — Andrew Marr, 48, BBC journalist, quoted in The Independent

Mindy McAdams’ list The survival of journalism: 10 simple facts.

(via lunch over IP)

6 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Interesting list, but it doesn’t talk about the quality of the reporting. Journalism has gotten bad – not because of the lack of money but because journalists are not willing anymore to go out and really get a story. Surfing the web is not journalism

  2. Peter, some of what you say is true, but I think that the idea that journalists aren’t “willing to go out and get a story” is because the companies they work for can’t afford to let them.

    Because of staff cutbacks, newspapers and TV news can’t afford to take some of their reporters and send them out of town (or across the globe) to get information. Due to small staffs, they can’t have a reporter spending weeks and months doing an in depth expose of an issue (like irregularities in the banking industry) because they need those reporters doing the other work, like covering political photo-ops, violent crimes and city council meetings.

    They also are not very likely to do stories on the activities of big companies for fear of losing advertising revenue or readers who work at those companies. Do you think the Seattle Times would do an in-depth multi-day expose of Microsoft? Would the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette do a hard-hitting piece on Wal-Mart? Would th e Dallas Morning News write a scathing article on horrible condistions in meat packing plants? Not very likely. You remember what those cattlemen did to Oprah!

    Some bloggers are doing some great work, but they can only do so much on a limited budget.

    It all comes down to money.

  3. “The business model to sustain journalism hasn’t been seen”? What about advertising? Maybe I’m naive, but hasn’t that pretty much been how it always works?

  4. Jeremy,

    Obviously advertising is the best way to make money, but the question is HOW do you advertise in the digital age?

    The Internet?

    Highly intrusive pop-up ads? People HATE them.
    Ads off to the side of the stories? Many people have software that shuts off the ads.

    Plus, my guess is that most Americans read news in small bites (like skimming headline links on, and not long articles, which makes it harder to get much advertising in front of their face.

  5. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg question. Did journalism get bad because the money disappear? Or did the money disappear because journalism got bad? Of course, good journalism is expansive. But in the end, bad journalism doesn’t sell.

  6. Clearly, the newsstand price of a paper is not how they make money. As Jeremy mentioned above, it’s advertising.

    And Advertisers are a smart, if not insidious bunch. There are plenty of ways they’ve dreamed up to get ads in front of users, e.g., the annoying 15 second ads that play before videos on news sites, and yes, those sidebar and banner ads count too, even if some users have software to block them, they’re still counted as potential visitors, so they affect the ad rates.

    Let’s not limit this to online either. Some local tv stations have done things like sponsored crawls (one in my town has mcdonalds sponsoring the crawl that runs at the bottom of the screen during the morning newscasts) and even product placement on the set, where the anchors will drink a specific type of coffee in a branded cup.