Advertising and The News

Jeff Jarvis, a man I respect greatly, does not actually advance the discussion about the options for print journalism in his The lie of print advertising (followed by good news).

I think the problem lurking below the words in his post is that is he is set on the continuation of the current organizations that provide the ‘news’ to us, today. For example, in his section on Efficiencies he writes:

* Efficiencies. The internet brings tremendous efficiencies to journalism. Do what you do best and link to the rest means any news entity can save a fortune on eliminating commodity news. Getting rid of print will also reduce the cost structure of news dramatically. We can’t just look at the revenue side of the equation; we need to look at new structures for the entire operation.

Actually, I think news will become an output of completely different organizations.

He mentions that the Telegraph in the UK makes a third of its revenue selling things. What if the folks producing sports news turned out to be ticket vendors? Or the people writing about food were users of OpenTable?

The sticking point in this analysis is open social discourse and investigative reporting into the most critical economic, political, and geopolitical issues of the day. But as Jay Rosen recently pointed out, the media have choked off access to media to those they have deemed illegitimate, so we have had a fairly closed world, until the web.

Jarvis and others may have a hard time accepting that hard news could come as the outcome of straightforward commerce. It’s simple when someone is writing about music to imagine selling CDs, or writing about ideas leads to selling books, and writing about food leads to selling wine. But when creating a context for reporting on affairs of the day – political chicanery in City Hall – what could be sold? Unless you keep the news organization bundled with the travel and food ‘sections’, there doesn’t seem to be a way to commercialize that deep reporting that we have come to think of as news journalism.

I don’t know if the ‘stone soup’ model of journalism that is working on is a viable alternative. Maybe only philanthropy can work.

And today, Google announced its experiment into Print Ads will be shuttered, ending its attempt to help newspapers find a new source of advertising revenue.

We need something altogether different, not just a hybrid of the old with new ads.

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