Monday, March 23, 2009

"American journalism's real challenge is to decouple advertising from news"

True, "free" in a context of fair use is different from free as in "free pizza." But Cokie and Steven V. Roberts reflect Leonard Witt's point of many months:

If access to news and to topical information is to be a predicate of democracy, then "the huge and unanswered question is: Who will pay for it?"

The good news is that information is not an obsolete commodity. In fact, it is more valuable than ever. In its annual report, the Project for Excellence in Journalism says that traffic on the top-50 news Web sites increased by 27 percent last year. The four leading sites - Yahoo, MSNBC, CNN and AOL - grew 22 percent and attracted 23.6 million unique visitors a month.

Clearly, professional journalists are still producing a product that consumers want. But the business model, the delivery system for bringing their work to their customers, has been decimated by technology. Gee, $1.50 and 15 minutes? Or free in 30 seconds? Not much of a choice.

"The problem facing American journalism is not fundamentally an audience problem or a credibility problem," said the Project for Excellence. "It is a revenue problem - the decoupling ... of advertising from news."

More of Roberts and Roberts here.

Also see: Who will adopt the orphan news?

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