The False Choice


This piece could have been titled Just Kill Me Now.

I would pay for subscription services, which would give me good,
trustworthy news that I trust has been fact-checked and all that. So I
do think subscription services will work, but that’s for upper-middle
class and above. I think we’re going to see a return to the sponsorship
model that we saw in the ’50s and ’60s on TV. Of course, that may be
just because I’ve been watching “Mad Men” too much…

I do think we will see the public service model and philanthropy model
like ProPublica. So I think we’re going to see some hybrid on that.
Beyond that I don’t know. Frankly, I thought I was going to be more
involved let’s say a year or two ago in this kind of stuff. But that’s
when I started talking to these guys … and I realized how far out of my
depth I was.

The discussion of the philanthropic model interests me, because it recognizes journalism as a service and specifically as a public service, rather than newspapers specifically and journalism as a profit-making enterprise. Once you separate the work from the delivery mechanism you start to drop a whole lot of the bullshit inherent in discussing this stuff, like “people won’t pay for content” and “there’s no money online.” But the headline and many of the questions are still the same tiresome “print vs. online” debate that assumes one has to make a choice. I’m having this argument in meatspace right now: Why not both? Why not both, done well? Why is this always framed as you’re either on one side or on the other?

And I have to think the answer to that is so long as journalists are focused on bitching about the Internet, they won’t talk about where the money that is there, that is being made with the means of the traditional media, is really going.

Nasty old Internet.


5 thoughts on “The False Choice

  1. Speaking as a (for the moment) working newspaper/online journalist, I can assure you we’re not bitching about the Internet. We’re bitching about the business-side people who haven’t, despite 15 years of opportunity, figured out how to MAKE MONEY from the Internet.

  2. It’s so fitting that the LA Times is the voice of a dinosaur media trapped in the modern version of the La Brea tar pits. While the “little” bloggers scamper about in the rockpiles, the old giants slowly starve as their subscribers age out of existence, and their advertisers switch to online buys to cater to youth. It doesn’t help that the actual collection of real journalists is being replaced by pundits and wannabe celebrities.
    I celebrate each morning traversing my half-dozen blogs and do confess to reading my horrible local newsie web site (Las Vegas Review-Journal) first. But First-Draft and Eschaton are my fact-checkers along with DailyKos and TalkingPointsMemo. If the workload isn’t too bad, I throw in HuffingtonPost and AlterNet.
    Blogs are the future and those who prefer to live in the past (i.e., most of my fellow Republicans) will be doomed to slowly sink into insignificance sooner rather than later.

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