Gary Greenberg (gberg) Wed 16 Feb 11 10:21
What's particularly outrageous about that "article" by Jason Linkins (really? Linkins?), besides its snottiness and its toadying and its illogic and its smug self-righteousness, is just how poorly written it is. And all those exclamation marks! I guess he really means it! Seems to me that the Maggie's Farm model works for the writer trying to break in, the same way that the arts weeklies do (or used to do), and that the exposure may well be worth it for them. And for the person who would, twenty years ago, devote time to writing letters to the editor, the opportunity to be heard sufficient recompense for their time, and even an incentive to shape their craft--amateurs, in other words, in the best sense of that word (whose etymology includes "amor"). It can also work for the policy whiz or think tanker who can use an additional outlet, but who has a main gig somewhere else. But for those who might want to actually make a living at writing, who want to labor mightily over putting ideas together and supporting them and turning them into a story well told--for those that model is a disaster. But you know, that craft may never have been in huge demand. Maybe it just happened that the gatekeepers--editors, by and large--were people who valued good writing, but that the audience never did, or at least didn't value it so much. Because the faxct that most of these blogs are just miserably badly written doesn't seem to make a difference in their popularity.
Ed Ward (captward) Wed 16 Feb 11 10:28
I think that to say that, you have to prove it's the same people consuming the goods, and I tend to think it's not. I think a lot of smart people are feeling a void in their information input these days.
Peter Richardson (richardsonpete) Wed 16 Feb 11 10:46
My impression is that Daily Kos's ad revenues aren't always so robust (#64). The site gets millions of visitors and lots of exposure but employs only eight people, I think. Its challenge in some ways resembles that of Ramparts and other precursors who found their audiences but not strong ad revenue. As Adam Hochshild pointed out to me, advertisers have easier ways to reach buyers. Political publications trade in ideas and outrage, not cars, jewelry, or snowboards. Peter, you're right that FCC licensees are supposed to do public interest broadcasting (#66). Steve Coll considers that a joke now. His proposal is to drop that requirement in exchange for spectrum user fees that would support public-interest broadcasting directly. Re: Jon's comment on direct public support for journalism (#67). Most countries do this, but our support, on a per capita basis, is puny. Public support isn't a radical idea at all, which is why Steve Coll favors it. We already have the infrastructure (PBS and NPR), but we can do much better. We've always subsidized political journalism in this country--either through postal subsidies, advertising, union dues, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, etc. I don't have a problem with the nonprofit model but I'm not sure it will provide the kind of journalism I'm talking about--which is expensive and the first to be cut in hard times--at the scale we need. In general, the journalism discussion reminds me of the health care debate, where we try to reinvent the wheel instead of doing the things that have worked well elsewhere--and in some cases, right here.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 16 Feb 11 11:06
<scribbled by jonl Wed 16 Feb 11 18:57>
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 16 Feb 11 18:57
I just have a quick many to post, but wanted to add an observation that occurred to me when reading above about the 10x cost of HuffPo: I think AOL was buying process, not content. I heard that the HuffPo staff would be responsible for other AOL properties, too. So maybe the value equation wasn't based strictly on revenues.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 16 Feb 11 19:04
We've reached the end of the time allocated for this discussion, though as always we can keep posting here if there's interest. I want to thank our distinguished guests for sharing some of their time and wisdom here. I don't think the future of journalism is the Huffington Post or Texas Tribune or mobile dedicated news apps or data journalism, etc., so much as it's the ongoing boundless curiosity and dedication of journalism like those who joined this discussion, and will be talking in sessions at SXSW Interactive in March, as part of a future of journalism track we helped curate. Good night, and good luck.
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