In today’s Sunday Times another excellent article from Terry Prone – entitled: It’s in the media’s interest to support a probe into privacy. In the middle of the piece Terry Prone makes the following comment:
‘It must be said, however, that the openness of journalists to examine all sides of possible legislation is currently complicated by their promiscuous fascination with internet-based offerings. Few of them concentrate on the dangers that online content pose to individual journalists and to the profession as a whole. I can think of no other well-paid profession whose members compete against each other for free. You don’t get orthopaedic surgeons doing knee replacements in their leisure time without charge. Yet you get journalists writing blogs for nothing, their urge for self-expression obscuring the fact that they are undermining their own employers. After all, why should readers buy newspapers when they can get the same writers on the net for free?
Journalists who pride themselves on their maverick stance are nonetheless joining the electronic herd, submitting to the peer pressure which holds that you must have, for example, a Facebook site. ‘
I have commented in the past on the challenges facing the newspaper industry. Journalists are not the only ones ‘joining the electronic herd’. An obvious example is the number of IT consultants blogging and providing thier expertise for free – in competition with themselves or their employers.
There is another element to this – some feeling (amongst those blogging) of belonging to a larger, collaborative environment – with an exchange of ideas and a sharing of knowledge. The question as to whether this will lead to useful work, revenue, jobs is largely unanswered.
‘Peer pressure which holds that you must have, for example, a Facebook site’ - yes I think there is some definite pressure around facebook. One reason for this is the existence of 150m+ accounts (how many of these are active?). But for many facebook is a useful tool, rather than something they are pressurised to use.
Terry Prone and many of the other journalists writing for the Sunday Times are the reason there is a future for this industry. But the business model my be changing. The news is available online almost immediately (e.g. twitter). But the assessment, the interpretation, the commentary – this is where quality journalism is required and has a strong future – with the right business model.