CSM op-ed: Why Journalists Deserve Low Pay

27 05 2009

Christian Science Monitor, now exclusively digital, offers this from Robert G. Picard, professor of media economics at Sweden’s Jonkoping University and a visiting fellow at the Reuters Institute at Oxford University:

… Wages are compensation for value creation. And journalists simply aren’t creating much value these days.

Until they come to grips with that issue, no amount of blogging, twittering, or micropayments is going to solve their failing business models.

Of course, technological advances and the multitude of new sources of information play a role in the devaluing of  journalists, he says, but they’re not insurmountable problems.

If value is to be created, journalists cannot continue to report merely in the traditional ways or merely re-report the news that has appeared elsewhere. They must add something novel that creates value. They will have to start providing information and knowledge that is not readily available elsewhere, in forms that are not available elsewhere, or in forms that are more useable by and relevant to their audiences.

One cannot expect newspaper readers to pay for page after page of stories from news agencies that were available online yesterday and are in a thousand other papers today. Providing a food section that pales by comparison to the content of food magazines or television cooking shows is not likely to create much value for readers. Neither are scores of disjointed, undigested short news stories about events in far off places. …

Finding the right means to create and protect value will require collaboration throughout news enterprises. It is not something that journalists can leave to management. …

The demise of the news business can be halted, but only if journalists commit to creating value for consumers and become more involved in setting the course of their companies.

Unfortunately, Picard’s article stops short of envisioning the new value-adding model. But his call for collaboration between journalists and management is important. There are many great journalistic minds working feverishly on this new model, sometimes in collaboration with academics. But I sense precious little collaboration between news company managers and their worker bees. Witness the sad lack of direction in the Tucson Citizen’s leftover Web site.

[hat tip to David Sheets]

UPDATE 6.1.2009: Lee Enterprises, owner of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, seems to agree that journalists deserve low pay, seeking a 23 percent (!) cut from the Newspaper guild.

Prank spread on social media taints Domino’s brand

16 04 2009

The New York Times:

As Domino’s is realizing, social media has the reach and speed to turn tiny incidents into marketing crises. In November, Motrin posted an ad suggesting that carrying babies in slings was a painful new fad. Unhappy mothers posted Twitter complaints about it, and bloggers followed; within days, Motrin had removed the ad and apologized.

On Monday, Amazon.com apologized for a “ham-fisted” error after Twitter members complained that the sales rankings for gay and lesbian books seemed to have disappeared — and, since Amazon took more than a day to respond, the social-media world criticized it for being uncommunicative.

To paraphrase Homer Simpson: Speed, the cause of and solution to all our problems.

Media insiders say Internet hurts journalism

10 04 2009

From The Atlantic:

In a poll of prominent members of the national news media, nearly two-thirds say the Internet is hurting journalism more than it is helping. The poll, conducted by The Atlantic and National Journal, asked 43 media insiders whether, on balance, journalism has been helped more or hurt more by the rise of news consumption online. Sixty-five percent said journalism has been hurt more, while 34 percent said it has been helped more.

I like the way The Atlantic presents verbatims with the poll results.

“It’s been bad in some ways for the media industry—especially newspapers, at this point—but over the long haul, I think the shift to the Web has helped the practice of journalism. It’s subjected journalists to more real-time scrutiny and opened the profession to talented people not affiliated with major media organizations.”

I think this one gets it about right. I think much of the friction has come from journalists in traditional media reacting badly to this scrutiny, seeming arrogant and dismissive toward the Web journalists, which in turn feeds the “scrutiny” or disdain for the so-called MSM. Isn’t it time to get past all that? 


Newspaper editors’ demands rile bloggers

9 04 2009

The vague demands of news executives at the Associated Press meeting this week have met with widespread hostility on the Web. The AP board wants Internet news aggregators and search engines that link to their content to pay up. No one seems to be exactly sure how this would work.

I’d prefer to see collaboration between the old media and the new. The Web needs the branded credibility that comes with the AP, newspaper and broadcast network logos. Web news content will inevitably suffer — has already suffered — as traditional news organs go bust. It seems unrealistic to me for the Webbies to dig in and refuse to consider a payment model. There’s no such thing as free. We all paid for journalism in the cost of our consumer products when advertising supported news. This model is broken, but another must take its place.

Yes, newspapers were slow to react, and their intransigence is largely responsible for their present predicament. That’s the nature of any institution in the face of revolutionary change, but it’s not the whole story. Web purveyors would be wise to stop pointing fingers and start working with traditional media toward a solution.

BusinessWeek: Social Media Marketing Myths

8 04 2009

According to BW, it’s not easy or cheap, but if you’re not marketing via social media, you’re behind.

That makes sense for most of the BW audience, but there are plenty of examples of big and small businesses dipping their toe into social media using in-house resources and negligible budgets and achieving extraordinary results. It’s not the bells and whistles, it’s the quality of the conversation.