Creative destruction to reinvent journalism?


The Society for New Communications Research has published a rather provocative essay in which information technology editor Paul Gillin predicts that the collapse of the newspaper industry will lead to a renaissance in journalism. I’m not sure that I agree on either end of that prediction, either as regards the collapse (the word conjures an image rather more abrupt than the future I envision) nor about the rebirth of newsgathering out the other end.

In arguing for newspapers’ demise, Gillin cites the oft-repeated example of, which has only 23 part-time employees yet ranks as the fifth most popular site on the Internet. With an “estimated four billion page views a month (is) absolutelty killing the newspaper classified ad business,” he writes in making the case that the efficiency of web-publishers will overwhelm more labor-intensive incumbent media.

At the same time and somewhat paradoxically, Gillin says new media will change journalism for the better.

He writes:

“The craft of journalism will evolve to include far more aggregation and organization than it has in the past. Editors will assemble their reports from a vast library of resources located across the Internet. Some information will come from paid staff writers, others from freelancers and still more from reports and opinions published by independent third parties and even competitors. Editors will still have a critical role, but their value will increasingly be in assembling and organizing information for readers who don’t have the time to sort through the vast Web . . . The craft of reporting will become faster and more iterative. Rumor, speculation and incomplete information will be published far more readily, on the assumption that errors can be corrected. Stories will, in essence, be built in real time and in full public view. Reporters will file copy directly to the Web, often without a review by an editor. Readers will be a central part of the process, correcting and commenting upon articles as they are taking shape. Reporting will become, in effect, a community process.”

Not much in the essay about how this transformation occurs but great faith that it will all be for the good.

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 Podcasting for dollars? MediaPost reports that: “PODVERTISING” will remain a niche channel through 2011–albeit a $400 million niche . . .  according to new research from eMarketer, which predicts a fivefold podvertising spending increase from $80 million last year to $400 million by 2011 . . . compared to the mere $3.1 million that marketers spent on podcast ads in 2005.”

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Looking for sponsors (in all the right places?): I came across a briefing from the Center for Media Research that identified the industries which were the most likely to purchase sponsorships rather than pay-per-click links. The report suggests that the travel industries, business-to-business firms and retail are the most likely to buy sponsorships. Those are national results. Is this a useful guide for local sellers? Will they find that image advertising resonates more to certain types of ad buyers? Any experience from the field on this?

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Advertisers bemoan poor metrics: Not a new story, but nor is it likely to go away. Advertisers prefer to spend money on web sites that are audited by some third party. What a surprise that this report originates with the Audit Bureau of Circulations.