A glimpse of the future of journalism from two bloggers

Here are two very different posts from two very different blogs. Yet, each in its own way shows us how the future of journalism might or might not evolve. Both of the bloggers currently write from Texas, but in this case, I think the geographical information is not important.

One blogger reveals his “heretical secret” that he doesn’t read the paper at all anymore (in its paper version.) What’s killing newspapers, is, “…more and more high quality content is available online,…less and less time for a broad market publication like a newspaper. And when I do want something that only my local paper can provide, …it is not put online quickly and in an easily managed format.” The other blogger proposes a “beatwriter cooperative” paid for by businesses with an interest in a beat, which will supply reporters to news organizations to cover a beat in-depth. The businesses pay for the journalists, but the news organization retains editorial control.

Blogger one gets news and information via “…RSS, …Twitter or another social site via recommendation…infotainment also reduces the amount of time that I spend reading a printed product.It doesn’t mean I’m reading less…I consume a lot more self-selected content – not just what a newspaper editor thought was important. I imagine that this is a big part of what is killing newspapers.” Here ia an argument that suggest why micropayments won’t work, if the unit of payment is the website. He just browses too many each day, but views only a bit of each. A micropayment by the story, costing hundredths or thousandths of a cent per story, would work for news content users like this guy.

The other blogger fears for the future of newspapers, “…The problem of course is that newspapers are pushing themselves to the point of irrelevancy. They have cost structures that dont support they business they think they are in. They don’t have a vision on what a profitable future might look like. They are getting crushed by disappearing advertising revenues. They are doing what anyone in their position would do, they are cutting every penny they can and praying for divine intervention.”

A small surprise is that the “heretic” who doesn’t read the paper is the journalism teacher, and the blogger who proposes a “beatwriter co-operative” to save newspapers is Mark Cuban. If newspapers go belly-up, Cuban believes it will really hurt sports teams’ bottom lines. In his post he calculates a rough estimate of the number of fans who do not use the Internet to follow a team, and how much losing newspaper coverage will cost the his team. He estimates what it would cost for the teams to fund the “beatwriter cooperative.”

Cuban’s proposal is brillant to my way of thinking, he proposes

…a company that funds, depending on the size of the market and number of teams, 2 or more writers per market, to cover our teams in depth. The writers would cover multiple teams and multiple sports. They will report to the newspapers where the articles will be placed, who will have complete editorial control. In exchange, the newspapers will provide a minimum of a full page on a daily basis in season, and some lesser amount out of season.

This statement by Cuban really caught my eye. “I would far rather subsidize in depth coverage of the Mavs, even without any editorial control then spend more money on advertising.” And here is what Mark Cuban says about the ethics of this idea:

I know this is in violation of all previous principles of editorial church and state, but then again, watching papers going out of business and not even being able to give themselves away means its time to start a new branch of that church. Having the world of professional sports realize the value of locally created content, available in an offline format, might just be a proactive step that saves us a lot of money in the long run.

The beatwriter cooperative idea might work for several other beats which have constituencies with money and interest to figure out that “…the value of locally created content, available in an offline format, might just be a proactive step that saves us a lot of money in the long run.”

About the two bloggers: Teach_J is written by a journalism teacher, Robert Courtemanche, who worked in television for five years and was one of those starry-eyed H.S. newspaper types. He teaches a variety of journalism classes, from yearbook production and newspaper production to photojournalism, broadcast journalism and video technology. The other blog blog maverick, is written by Mark Cuban, IT entrepreneur, Sports team owner, and news provocateur. Cuban owns the “Mavericks” basketball team in Dallas, TX. He underwrote sharesleuth.com, an investigative journalism site designed to ferret out corporate misdeeds, which hasn’t been updated since November of 2008, and the now active bailoutsleuth.com, which is riding herd on TARP spending and other activities involved with the current federal bailout efforts.Technorati Tags: , , ,

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