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Letting Time Solve the Online News Dilemma

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the good-old-supply-and-demand dept.

The Media 188

The Guardian's John Naughton isn't looking to micro-transactions or licensing fees from search services to solve the online news business model problems that have come to a head recently. Instead, he's simply waiting for capitalism to do its job in killing off the providers who can't cut it. Once that happens, he says, the remaining organizations will be in a far better position to see what web-goers will pay for online news, and he doesn't think it will inhibit the growth of an increasingly information-rich news ecosystem. "Things have got so bad that Rupert Murdoch has tasked a team with finding a way of charging for News Corp content. This is the 'make the bastards pay' school of thought. Another group of fantasists speculate about ways of extorting money from Google, which they portray as a parasitic feeder on their hallowed produce. ... But what will journalism be like in the perfectly competitive online world? One clue is provided by the novelist William Gibson's celebrated maxim that 'the future is already here; it's just not evenly distributed.' In a recent lecture, the writer Steven Johnson took Gibson's insight to heart and argued that if we want to know what the networked journalism of the future might be like, we should look now at how the reporting of technology has evolved over the past few decades."

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Warning! This is a False Sense of Security! (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986523)

It's difficult to keep one's head when all about one people are losing theirs, but let us have a go. First of all, some historical perspective might help. When broadcast radio arrived in the US in the 1920s, nobody could figure out a business model for it. How could one generate revenue from something that could be listened to by anyone for free? Dozens of companies were founded to exploit the new medium, and most of them folded. The problem was solved by a detergent manufacturer named Procter & Gamble, which came up with the idea of sponsoring dramatic serials: the soap opera â" and the mass market â" was born.

What you're overlooking is that newspapers have enjoyed revenues for quite sometime. Granted, they've risen and fallen, they are used to this steady income. Radio wasn't used to this income. Models like brand name advertising and recognition ensured its success. Newspapers have made money off of controlling the distribution channels of a similar model with great results, now they are staring down the barrel of a distribution model that they cannot control. They aren't used to this and they certainly aren't handling it well.

What radio saw was a controlled explosion in which they ramped up and expanded across everywhere. That's an easy thing to do because it's positive. What newspapers across the country should be doing is cutting unnecessary jobs, refactoring salaries. Being a columnist is not going to be glamorous any more. The irony is that you're going to be more widely read but be paid less. That might make a lot of people want to quit and find other work ... who could blame them?

This restructuring must happen or you will die. Marketing and endorsements have been the only card you have played (Murdoch's micro charging is proof he's out of ideas) for the past decade as the internet has exploded. The recession is making this more obvious now than it was last year. You had your chance to invent the new way, now you must act or reduce your work force.

The moral is simple: eventually someone will figure out a business model that works for online news. But it may take some time, and lots of outfits will fall by the wayside in the meantime. That's capitalism for you.

You are wrong. There is an end state where no one figures out a way for the model to work. Newspapers go the way of the buffalo just like drive in theaters. You have done yourself and your kind a great disservice by theorizing this false safety net and are only further lulling them into inaction and unemployment. I am not in your business but I see it from the outside and as a customer, use this advice.

Re:Warning! This is a False Sense of Security! (4, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986611)

Sometimes things going the way of the dodo is capitalism as well. How many buggy whip manufacturers are there today? A more than few I imagine, for various equine sport but not the numbers that once existed.

Drive-In movies are all about gone too because we just don't need them any more. People have so many other options for entertainment and so many other venues including their homes to watch the same movies in the drive-in theater is just not a marketable service any more. It may be the same way with the papers. The question is where will investigative reporting and other hard news content come from? I think we all understand there is a need for and a market for that content. What needs to be figured out is how to deliver it profitably.

I suspect print newspapers and even online news sites as they exist to day are not that mechanism, nor is network broadcast news. I just don't know how it gets done, If I did I would be doing it.

Re:Warning! This is a False Sense of Security! (2, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986975)

Sometimes things going the way of the dodo is capitalism as well.

Absolutely. How is the Pure Collector's [channel4.com] business model nowadays? Although I can't think what it is about journalism that brought that particular defunct business to mind...

Re:Warning! This is a False Sense of Security! (3, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987201)

How many buggy whip manufacturers are there today? Quite a few actually, if you bothered to look. In any case, buggy whip manufacture never was something done on an industrial scale. Buggies were not anything like as common as cars are today. It was never an important industry.

In any case, the thing you're missing is that the primary product of newspapers wasn't the sheaf of paper you could hold in your hand; it was knowledge. Knowledge isn't a commodity like a buggy whip, or an hour or so's entertainment at the drive in. We are enriched as much if not more by others around us having knowledge than our own knowledge itself.

Newspapers as an artifact aren't important. As organizations for generating knowledge about current events, they are indispensable. A mediocre newspaper does vastly more story development than the best newscast.

The salient characteristic of the Internet in the funding of knowledge generation is that Internet is funded by huge volumes of tiny transactions. This means that you want knowledge with wide appeal and low cost. Expensive local news gathering is out, and the national political opinion echo chamber is in. It probably cost the Boston Globe a half million dollars to break the clergy sex abuse scandal. Countless other organizations made money off of writing opinion pieces on that. That's the future of news: less fact gathering, more opinion spreading. In the end, "news" will simply be the upper echelon of the blogosphere.

The positive side might be "crowd sourced" news. That's certainly a bright spot. But while that's find for getting pictures of an airliner that ditches in the Hudson river, it's no substitute for going after a story.

Re:Warning! This is a False Sense of Security! (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987317)

Here is the trick you need source material to begin with. You can't have opinion pieces if there isn't any news to begin with.

While the newspaper it's is going to evolve or die, Journalism biggest change is that it will move away from publishers, and writers working together(typical news station, newspaper) to each being a separate entity. the one who masters this first will make it big. There is so much content that in order to get an idea of what is happening in any one region I have to go to 3-4 different sources, and sift out the identical stories. while the newspaper itself shrinks and cable tv source s go to national news first flufff second and maybe if we have time some local news. to find out what is happening in just your area you already have to go beyond normal.

The choices the publishers make in choosing stories will decide either they live or die.

Re:Warning! This is a False Sense of Security! (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987209)

Sometimes things going the way of the dodo is capitalism as well. How many buggy whip manufacturers are there today? A more than few I imagine, for various equine sport but not the numbers that once existed.

Bad example of something other than restructuring, as whip manufacturers are an excellent example of restructuring out of equine purposes and into the, uh, adult entertainment business. Since pr0n drives technological advances in all other fields of human endeavor, possibly, naked news and similar publications are the future of the news publishing industry. Several cable news channels already employ women whom were apparently selected for appearance rather than journalistic ability.

Also, there may no longer be a need for "investigative reporting" since it has disappeared from the market due to advertiser pressure other than once in a generation Pulitzer Prize situations.

Comedy-News seems to be doing pretty well, or at least better than the main stream media Infotainment-News model. Also see Pr0n-News as discussed above.

Re:Warning! This is a False Sense of Security! (5, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986623)

Newspapers go the way of the buffalo just like drive in theaters.

Don't confuse the delivery mechanism with the product. The product is "What is going on?". It is delivered now via Newspapers, T.V., Radio, and the Web.

While a great deal of it is generated by the infrastructure of workers created and maintained by the newspapers, there is plenty that is generated independent of them.

The analogy of Drive Ins is very accurate. It used to be they were one of only two options to watch movies. Even though the Drive In are now virtually extinct, people still watch movies. And their options for watching them have expanded greatly.

People will always want, no, need to know what is going on. Regardless of what happens to the newspaper industry, someone will be there to fill that need and they will be compensated one way or another.

Re:Warning! This is a False Sense of Security! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986695)

Even though the Drive In are now virtually extinct, people still watch movies. And their options for watching them have expanded greatly.

I eat buffalo burgers all the time. The drive-in is populated by slack-jawed yokels around here (I used to go there with some of them) but the one in Santa Cruz is pretty sweet.

Re:Warning! This is a False Sense of Security! (2, Funny)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986719)

A webcam to watch the goings-on in the convertibles and through sun roofs could be a profitable sideline.

News is now entertainment. (4, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987157)

The problem is that news needs to be critical information, and not just entertainment, in order for democracy to work. Even a truly free market requires critical analysis of products, because it only functions if consumers are making informed decisions.

Let's say we just let the chips fall where they may and cable news becomes the de facto standard for journalism. When you have a handful of corporations whose job is to sell advertising to another handful of corporations, the amount of self-censorship would skyrocket. Common sense tells you that outing your highest paid advertiser for having a sweatshop or poisoning a creek that's giving children cancer is a bad business move.

Imagine this scenario: two journalists approach their editor with a story. One is a fluff piece about a local sports star getting arrested for hiring a prostitute. The other is an investigation into alleged union busting at a major local employer, who also happens to be one of their biggest advertisers. In a purely capitalist model, which journalist gets the green light? Does the editor who cranks out huge profits for less money get the promotion?

A book was written about the subject, with a nice summary on Wikipedia:

According to the book, the pressure to create a stable, profitable business invariably distorts the kinds of news items reported, as well as the manner and emphasis in which they are reported. This occurs not as a result of conscious design but simply as a consequence of market selection: those businesses who happen to favor profits over news quality survive, while those that present a more accurate picture of the world tend to become marginalized.
Manufacturing Consent, by Herman and Chomsky

For a concrete example, check this out this article on the coverage of the genocide in East Timor. [fair.org]

Basically, if you let market forces totally control news media in any form, you will end up with entertainment that distributes what is popular but not what is true. It's the difference between the BBC and Fox News. Both are biased, but as far as the quality of news they provide, Fox isn't even in the same dimension.

Re:News is now entertainment. (1)

descil (119554) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987285)

Every company (news outlets just get the attention) has to deal with a delicate set of balancing acts like this. Running a business is equivalent to the "balance ten stacks of 30 dishes on various parts of your anatomy" trick.

Unfortunately for most managers the first priority has to be to keep the business running. That is what fuels everything else, and it's really a bad way of thinking about your motivations. A better way is, "I need to keep my employees and customers happy and well-fed." But that's not how they think, "What is the bottom line?" is how they think.

It wouldn't be such a problem if it wasn't for the agreeable nature of most American decision making teams. CEO says, "here's my idea, what do you guys think?" and the "guys" don't think, they just say "oooh that's your best idea yet! I could never have thought of anything that good or better" which is probably true... but they could be saying "er, boss, that's a great product idea, but won't it create 50 billion tonnes of untreatable radioactive waste and alienate our customer base ten years from now?" Such decisions are hard to make and even harder by committee.

And even harder to change once a precedence is set. If a company decides to never compromise their bottom line for customer or employee, they will fail and very quickly too. The same is far more true of news agencies which are so publicly scrutinized.

Furthermore, Fox is for entertainment, BBC is for fear. Which do you think I prefer to watch? Haha, sorry, but I'd rather be having fun watching some bouncy broad jog on Fox news and ignorant of the fear mongering that the world corporations want me to watch. I'll get my fear mongering by text where it isn't surrounded by creepy music and disturbing visuals. Desensitization or ignorance are the only possible sane response to the world we live in these days.

Re:News is now entertainment. mod up (4, Interesting)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987337)

The problem is that news needs to be critical information, and not just entertainment, in order for democracy to work

100% correct. unfortunately, since the fall of the CCCP, the news industry has slowly collapsed into a sensationalistic grab bag of titillation and distraction.

Here's a nice short documentary on this [google.com] by Adam Curtis.

RS

Market solution may be the "National Enquirer". (1)

reporter (666905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987241)

Allowing the market to determine which newspaper survives the harsh economic climate will create survivors who are likely economically strong. That observation is precisely how a free market works.

The survivors are determined solely by market demand -- by what the consumer wants to read. What does the typical consumer want to read? Go to the local supermarket and behold the intellect of the typical consumer. He wants to read stuff like the "National Enquirer" and "Star".

If the 4th branch of government becomes only tabloids, what will happen to our American society? Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Re:Market solution may be the "National Enquirer". (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987455)

I'm sure there's a market for decent, non-trivial news. However, I'd expect them to be more expensive, and (for places as decentralized as the US) you'll have trouble finding local news.
Who knows, maybe this will lead to people actually getting off their asses to find information, and having a bigger part in what's going on than voting every couple of years.

Re:Warning! This is a False Sense of Security! (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987255)

Don't confuse the delivery mechanism with the product. The product is "What is going on?". It is delivered now via Newspapers, T.V., Radio, and the Web.

The product is eyeballs looking at advertisements. "What is going on?" is a byproduct, or at best, a marketing gimmick used to lure in the eyeballs. You cannot successfully analyze the situation without understanding this most important initial condition.

Why don't we try something else? (1)

American Terrorist (1494195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986699)

That's capitalism for you.

How about the NPR/PBS model? If the NYT was desperate for money and sent letters begging for donations, I'm sure more than a few faithful readers would step up to the plate. Conservatives could donate to Murdoch (cuz he doesn't have enough money already) and I can donate to whoever I think is good. It would be extra cool if I had the option of donating to specific reporters that I liked (Frank Rich).

Capitalism does not always work for everything, markets fail more often than your libertarian econ profs tell you. I always enjoyed PBS more than any other broadcast TV, and I wouldn't miss a world without reality shows.

Re:Why don't we try something else? (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987073)

Capitalism does not always work for everything, markets fail more often than your libertarian econ profs tell you.

Markets "fail" because demand for them decreases. That's not a failure of Capitalism, that is capitalism doing its job. And, in capitalism, nothing truly dies if there is a smidgeon of a market for it (i.e. a few people want it).

Case in point: Buggy Whip Manufacturers [jedediahsbuggywhip.com] , Drive-in Theaters [driveinmovie.com] , and The Buffalo [highplainsbison.com] .

Re:Why don't we try something else? (1)

American Terrorist (1494195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987245)

Markets "fail" because demand for them decreases. That's not a failure of Capitalism, that is capitalism doing its job. And, in capitalism, nothing truly dies if there is a smidgeon of a market for it (i.e. a few people want it).

No, what you are describing is called obsolescence. Wikipedia says:

In economics, a market failure exists when the production or use of goods and services by the market is not efficient. That is, there exists another outcome where all involved can be made better off. Market failures can be viewed as scenarios where individuals' pursuit of pure self-interest leads to results that are not efficient â" that can be improved upon from the societal point-of-view... Market failures are often associated with non-competitive markets, externalities or public goods. The existence of a market failure is often used as a justification for government intervention in a particular market.

What libertarians don't realize is that almost nothing is perfectly competitive, everything has externalities, and almost all goods are 'public' to some extent.

The value of news is very difficult to measure and price, so a market failure here is no surprise.

We don't have Newspapers today. Just rumors. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27986791)

That's how the news has always been for the past 2000 years, beginning from the first post at Jesus the Christ slandered to become "King of the Jews" by a local BBS administrator.

Today, it's no different than it was back then, only now they're sharing alleged "journalists" with eachother to syndicate and spread a half-wit's perception of what he either heard from an unverified witness of intent of what he was payed to write. Truly, this is an awful news day that things have degraded as they are, where subscribers are determined by entertainment of their psychosis rather than an actual forum where one can assert an interest. It's a dictatorship in terms of commercial speach, and it has nothing to do with freedom of speech. There are no major "name-only" news papers that are secured in the 1st Amendment but only corporations that adopt or embrace a colorable privilege that attornies and bad council mis-interpret as being the licenture of the 1st Amendment "reservations."

Corporations aren't on the Vine, let them all whither.

Re:Warning! This is a False Sense of Security! (1)

downix (84795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986837)

> You are wrong. There is an end state where no one figures out a way for the model to work. Newspapers go the
>way of the buffalo just like drive in theaters. You have done yourself and your kind a great disservice by
>theorizing this false safety net and are only further lulling them into inaction and unemployment. I am not >in your business but I see it from the outside and as a customer, use this advice. ...and I just came back from watching Star Trek at the drive in while munching on a Buffalo Burger. (true story)

Re:Warning! This is a False Sense of Security! (4, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986887)

Newspapers go the way of the buffalo just like drive in theaters.

That would be fantastic. Because after a long hiatus, I can now get a buffalo burger at a local restaurant. I can. not. wait. for a delicious NYT burger in 50 years.

Re:Warning! This is a False Sense of Security! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27986925)

The moral is simple: eventually someone will figure out a business model that works for online news. But it may take some time, and lots of outfits will fall by the wayside in the meantime. That's capitalism for you.

You are wrong. There is an end state where no one figures out a way for the model to work. Newspapers go the way of the buffalo just like drive in theaters. You have done yourself and your kind a great disservice by theorizing this false safety net and are only further lulling them into inaction and unemployment. I am not in your business but I see it from the outside and as a customer, use this advice.

I think you are missing the point that he is not talking about any medium in particular, or COURSE paper news will eventually go away, what he is talking about is news as a whole (that includes /.) finding a way to survive and thrive

Pretty rich coming from the Guardian (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27986571)

The website will soon be all that's left of the Guardian. I have a friend working for the paper - their financial situation is dire and their circulation is dropping steadily due to their cheerleading for the British government. They blew through £50 million in 2008 and have a pot left of ~£200 million. They've been asked to try and slash £20 million from their internal budget for 09. Sooner or later printing the paper will have to cease - it is approaching the vanity publishing level now.

Re:Pretty rich coming from the Guardian (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986905)

The guardian mostly cheerlead for the lib dems, the reason they are fairly is most likely that their demographic (mostly young intelligent people) are the first ones to drop a hard copy newspaper in favor of various internet sites. The newspapers that sell well are the ones for the lower class, who can't browse the internet on breaks (sun & mail) and the old who don't want to(telegraph?). Its also a broadsheet meaning it has a harder time competing due to cost (the sun is 20p (tbh you cant get toilet paper that cheep anymore)).

Capitalism maximizes for profit (5, Insightful)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986573)

Capitalism just maximizes for profit not for equity, not fairness. NPR versus Fox News is a great example of this. Fox News will be going strong for a long, long time; regardless of their bias. NPR could be hurt if the government cut off all their funds.

Saying that capitalism will save the day overly simplistic.

Re:Capitalism maximizes for profit (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27986725)

Any reasonable person listening to NPR would recognize the built in ideological slant to NPR.

One listener to NOR said it best in a letter read on the air: "Gays, Aids, and Abortion". You are guaranteed to hear at least one story on one of these subjects every freaking day.

Throw in a story about how wonderful (insert liberal politician here) is and how evil (Insert conservative politician here) is and then add some snooty, witty, and amusing story about some obscure idiot and there you have an NPR broadcast.

NPR should have their government funds cut off. Let George Soros buy it.

Almost. mrs. Kroc (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27986847)

McDonald's Founder's wife left $200 Million to them [findarticles.com]

NPR, the last I heard from them, gets about 10% of their budget from the Government. But I agree, that should be cut too.

Re:Capitalism maximizes for profit (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27986947)

I once heard a show on NPR that brought in two people to debate an issue: a prominent liberal and a prominent conservative in the area of discussion (religion in this case). Something very interesting happened. The conservative felt that the moderator was biased against him simply for having the debate in the first place. He was accustomed to a format in which he is left unchallenged and unquestioned.

That seems to be the difference between liberal and conservative media. The liberal outlet gives equal time to multiple voices while the conservative one presents only a single side of any issue.

WHAT??!?!? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27987125)

Just by briefly mentioning this, you are proving that Slashdot adheres to narrow groupthink and forcibly squelches dissenting opinion! Why do you hate freedom? Why do you want to silence us free-thinkers?

Re:Capitalism maximizes for profit (1)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987231)

Conservative media brings on opposing sides, they just tell the opposing side to shut-up [youtube.com] .

What a Narrow Minded Post (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987043)

Any reasonable person listening to NPR would recognize the built in ideological slant to NPR.

Well, call me unreasonable then because I recognize little if any slant. And I know you will say that's proof of my political leanings but I don't think it is. I listen to NPR because the rest of radio is complete and utter trash. I don't want to listen to a naked girl rub her boobs on the host on air. I'd rather listen to Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me or Sound Money ... shows I can't see any liberal bias you speak of. You know in Minnesota, they have at least three different MPR stations that play music. Classical music and independent rock. Commercial free. You're also arguing against that when you argue against public radio.

One listener to NOR said it best in a letter read on the air: "Gays, Aids, and Abortion". You are guaranteed to hear at least one story on one of these subjects every freaking day.

I don't know what NOR is but I'll assume you meant NPR. I grew up listening to A Prairie Home Companion and don't recall any of those topics. I don't know what "Gays, Aids and Abortion" has to do with being liberal, they are all issues that should be addressed by anyone regardless of their political affiliation. They are current topics. Have you heard their coverage of the war in Iraq? I've found that to be very unbiased.

Throw in a story about how wonderful (insert liberal politician here) is and how evil (Insert conservative politician here) is and then add some snooty, witty, and amusing story about some obscure idiot and there you have an NPR broadcast.

You have never listened to NPR. Do you know that a lot of the affiliates switch over to BBC World News late at night? Do you find that to have a horribly liberal bias?

NPR should have their government funds cut off. Let George Soros buy it.

Do you know how much money you pay to NPR? Probably a few cents a month--if that. I don't think they would really care if they lost government funding, probably just push their pledge drive out another day. They get so little from the government and so much from listeners that would like to see any kind of news source free without ads, available everywhere in the country. Think about it, people hand money to them ... they don't have to charge like Murdoch wants to.

They may present more liberal topics than conservative topics but at least they don't use verbage that tries to tell me how to think about them (a la Fox News).

I would bet that if you took a citizen from another part of the world and made them listen to NPR they would see it as pretty damn neutral.

How the parent post got moderated insightful, I'll never know.

Re:What a Narrow Minded Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27987217)

How the parent post got moderated insightful, I'll never know.

It fits right in to what Slashdotters want to hear. When one's political agenda is being stroked, who cares about the truth?

MOD PARENT UP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27987131)

NPR's obsession with gay "issues" is so pervasive we don't play the local NPR affiliate in our house. Sorry but we don't want our kids hearing what we jokingly call "OUT Radio" on a daily basis.

Re:MOD PARENT UP! (1)

American Terrorist (1494195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987449)

Sorry but we don't want our kids hearing what we jokingly call "OUT Radio" on a daily basis.

You're the one who will be sorry when your children develop their own unbiased opinions in a few years, and lose respect for you based on yours. My dad is a huge Rush Limbaugh/O'Reilly fan who I can't even talk to anymore about the real world or politics anymore. I'm not gay, but I feel my understanding of human sexuality is so much more advanced than his that it would be a waste of time to bring up anything remotely related to the topic. By the time he gave me the 'sex talk' I had already lost my virginity and read many books on the topic, so I was already years ahead of whatever pitiful information he shared in his 'chat'. Sounds like your children are headed down the same path.

Re:Capitalism maximizes for profit (1)

PracticalM (1089001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987305)

NPR the main organization gets about 2% of revenues from the government. All in competitive grants.

Member stations might get as much as 14% from government (individual stations) and I'll bet most of that goes to stations that service areas thinly populated but I can't find figures.

As for bias, it will depend upon your on point of view but the best NPR shows have a bias to the truth. Air Talk with Larry Mantle has had some of the best reporting on an issue and he is comfortable calling out speakers who don't tell the truth on the air.

I've seen that very few NPR shows will call out a speaker's comments when they contradict fact, no matter if the speaker is conservative or liberal.

As long as the news is just a mouthpiece for groups to put their own spin on facts, truth suffers. We need more reporters like Larry Mantle who call out speakers who don't tell the truth.

No body likes the truth-sayers though (ask any whistle blower) and I doubt there's much of a business model for truth these days.

Re:Capitalism maximizes for profit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27986851)

Fox News will be going strong for a long, long time

That's because Fox News tells people what they want to hear. People don't care about what's true or not; they will listen to and support what is comfortable to them. When someone demands the truth instead of propaganda, they shake their heads and call that person an "activist."

Re:Capitalism maximizes for profit (3, Insightful)

anaesthetica (596507) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986855)

NPR could be hurt if the government cut off all their funds.

Well, there's the key difference between NPR and a paper like The Guardian. NPR has never turned a profit, and has never bothered to develop a profit model. It has remained on the public dole by design. The Guardian, a paper that is further to the left than NPR, nevertheless manages to turn in a healthy profit. It may not be Fox News, but it does quite well for itself.

Saying that capitalism will save the day overly simplistic.

The irony of The Guardian advocating a profit-driven, competitive, capitalist solution to the current woes of the news industry can't have gone unnoticed to you.

Re:Capitalism maximizes for profit (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986881)

The Guardian is self-financing, and doesn't need any donations, but it is owned by a not-for-profit organisation.

Re:Capitalism maximizes for profit (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987215)

The irony of The Guardian advocating a profit-driven, competitive, capitalist solution to the current woes of the news industry can't have gone unnoticed to you.

What irony? The Guardian will print almost anyone so seeing anything advocated isn't that rare.

Re:Capitalism maximizes for profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27987265)

The Guardian doesn't make a profit and hasn't made one in decades. Both it and the Observer are "paid for" by the profitable publications in the Guardian Media Group such as Autotrader and the Manchester Evening News.

Ditto the Independent (of London) which has *NEVER* made a profit and is subsidised by Independent News and Media's profitable Irish newspapers.

Re:Capitalism maximizes for profit (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987401)

The Guardian, a paper that is further to the left than NPR, nevertheless manages to turn in a healthy profit. It may not be Fox News, but it does quite well for itself.

Who told you that? The Guardian is losing money hand over fist, and is gutting its profitable regional papers in order to plug the losses.

then why do they have those stupid fund drives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27987409)

listeners support it, so do underwriters like ford foundation.

Re:Capitalism maximizes for profit (0, Troll)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986857)

Fox News will be going strong for a long, long time; regardless of their bias. NPR could be hurt if the government cut off all their funds, because of their bias.

There, fixed it for you. A good idea can survive on its own. A bad one needs government's help (can't remember, who said this...)

Saying that capitalism will save the day overly simplistic.

Nothing else is as good at "saving the day" as Capitalism.

Re:Capitalism maximizes for profit (1)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987311)

> Saying that capitalism will save the day overly simplistic.

Maybe, but none of your comment supports your claim. You picked two players, both of whom have not adjusted their business model appropriately, and say that one of them might die. Then you say that capitalism won't save the day. Non sequitur, my friend.

Saving the day has nothing to do with keeping existing players in play. The whole point of capitalism is that the players that survive are the ones that appropriately match their model with the market, resulting in the people getting what they demand in the most efficient manner available (but not necessarily the most efficient manner possible). This means that if the current players don't match their model with the changed market, they can and SHOULD be put out of business, and others will take their market share.

Nothing in your comment addresses this, yet you claim that capitalism isn't the answer.

Re:Capitalism maximizes for profit (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987355)

Just pointing something [newsbusters.org] out [journalism.org] .

Sure, it's not necessarily representative of their entire coverage, but when it comes to events that truly matter Fox News is overwhelmingly more fair than most any other news outlet. All the others showed heavy favoritism to the Obama campaign.

In contrast, the Fox News Channel treated both candidates to roughly the same level of good and bad press, with Obama earning just slightly better press than McCain. One-fourth of Obama stories on Fox (25%) were positive, compared to 22% of McCain's coverage. Both candidates received exactly the same proportion of negative stories on FNC, 40%.

I'd like to see a similar study comparing right/left topics in general, perhaps weighted with the importance of the stories (difficult, the importance would have to be relatively subjective). Fox wouldn't fair as well, unless you consider the fact that most of their right-wing shows seem to be trash news for the most part. You could probably toss the talk shows from all the networks and get a decent look at how they stand on actual reporting.

Perhaps Fox only seems so far right because everything else is so far left?

My 2 cents anyway.

Parasitic Google? (3, Insightful)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986581)

Another group of fantasists speculate about ways of extorting money from Google, which they portray as a parasitic feeder on their hallowed produce.

From what I understand Google licenses news from the big news wires [reuters.com] as well as from some of the big newspapers. Some of that has been forced through lawsuits [dmwmedia.com] .

Before that, they would just crawl news sites and display headlines and summaries, just like in their normal search.

It seems odd. Google has to pay for the privilege of sending them traffic. I wish I could get a deal like that.

If I were Google, the next time the traditional news outlets came to me with their hands out I'd tell them I've decided that I'd be more than happy to remove all their content from my index and no longer "steal" their business. Thew newspaper execs wouldn't like that [cnet.com] too much.

Mesage from the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27986963)

Citizen rackserverdeals

We have been hearing Bad Things about you. Your existence on Google is hereby terminated. All your data has been deleted.

Do not bother attempting to reply to this as you no longer exist.

Sergey B.

Re:Parasitic Google? (2, Interesting)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986983)

It seems odd. Google has to pay for the privilege of sending them traffic.

It's more like "Google has to pay for the privilege of displaying content creators freshly created content next to Google ads." Without the content creators, Google has little to offer. I use Google as my homepage, and most of the time I can just read the headlines to know what is going on... I click on less than 10% of the stories. But without those results, Google has nothing to sell, no reason for my eyes to ever visit their news page. I look for Google to have more problems in the future as content creators become more desperate to monetize their work. What I fear is a guild system that ends up being something like ASCAP & BMI http://www.artistshousemusic.org/videos/the+difference+between+ascap+and+bmi [artistshousemusic.org] .

Re:Parasitic Google? (3, Informative)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987169)

It's more like "Google has to pay for the privilege of displaying content creators freshly created content next to Google ads."

There are no ads on the Google News homepage or the Google home page or even the iGoogle homepage so I don't see how they are using ads with other people's content in your case.

Without you using Google, those news sites wouldn't get the 10% of clicks you generate.

If newspapers don't like it they can use their robots.txt file to block googlebot. Even worse, Google News has become more of an opt-in crawl where you have to request it and meet certain crtieria. You even need to include a unique numerical id in your urls for google to include you in the news index.

Newspapers could opt out of google news but it would be the equivalent of providing newsstands with front pages that contained no headlines or stories. People walking by wouldn't see the attention grabbing headlines that might cause them to buy the paper and see the advertisements contained.

Re:Parasitic Google? (1)

Firkragg14 (992271) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987029)

Although it would be an impressive demonstration of the power that google has. A threat of being removed from google is basically like removing someonne from the internet for the majority of people.

Top Independent (free) internet news stations: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27986585)

The below URL's are all live and referencable. Anyone have anything else that I haven't heard yet? Would be nice if Slashdot had a news station feed of Rob Malda's voice reading news or somthing like a storybook at the end of my day. Get them and learn espectialy about AVRN and the patriot and pirate radio wars that will be eventually shut down by Washington DC through RIAA and Patriot Act.

American Voice Radio Network [209.51.162.173]
World Wide First Amendment Radio [208.53.158.48]
Liberty Radio Live [6427205lradio]
Republic Broadcasting Network [216.240.133.177]
Infowars.com Prison Planet [infowars.com]
BurlingtonNews.net BUFO [audiorealm.com]

Noory/Belle's Coast2Coast AM isn't as good as BUFO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27986939)

And BUFO is free, while it seems Coast2Coast AM is prepaid. Anyone have a link to a free stream piped from a Coast2Coast AM account feed?

And don't forget the main truck to GCN Radio. That's a Ted Anderson outfit that feeds more than just RBN and Prison Planet. GCN is a multi-station network, and more can be found on a GCN Radio station at JEFFRENSE.COM [renseradio.com] live feeds (archive feeds need to be bought).

Just now briefly listening to AVRN as you posted, they have a great documentary on GMO'd containment problems in Mexico. Horrible prosecutors were suing the heirloom corn seed farmers because the GMO'd crap cross-polinated a generation into their crop and that violated Montanto's IP.

Re:Top Independent (free) internet news stations: (1)

TheFlamingoKing (603674) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986945)

Your tin foil hat is showing. :D

Slashdot bed-time stories, with Jon Katz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27987021)

And the Bit Shifter hid under the bed as ideas danced in little Robby's sleaping head. Feeding him the thoughts to do for the day that would put news on Slashdot's a better way. When out from the closet sprang the Evil Bit and chased the Bit Shifter out through the door, down the hall, and onto the floor where rang the nightly call of CowboyNeal houling through the Intercom wishing well another day of LINUX.COM and Slashdot's over-extended stay. Wouldn't you know it, out in the yard, a Gnome distracts into the two datagrams a Goatse of Peccard, with vissions of Priceline.com sending Shatner on a ogo-pogo stick, sent up the ass of ol' Kike Thomas the Spick. With a hearty goodbye, the Gnome gave a yodel, back into Kathleen Fent's cunt he climed, saying Merry Christmas and don't ask me why.

Good night Anonymous Coward (*kiss)
The End

Why pay for online news? (1)

The Pirou (1551493) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986587)

Why pay for online news when we're* not paying for Movies, Television, Music, Software, etc? We'll just download it from Usenet with everything else when we get home each night. It might not be "Today's" news, but so long as the world didn't noticeably melt down during the course of the day, whatever was in there can wait.

*You all. Not me. I'll just stop reading Slashdot when Rupert gets his claws in the 'stuff that matters.'

Re:Why pay for online news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27987003)

Usenet is not a commonly used service. Slashdot users, maybe, not the general internet using public. Not even most pirates download from usenet. Torrent is king.

Personally, I don't use it and know no one that does.

Should newscorps be allowed to freeload ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27986607)

Things have got so bad that Rupert Murdoch has tasked a team with finding a way of charging for News Corp content. This is the 'make the bastards pay' school of thought.

Mr Rupert, where can the people whom you have taken pictures of and see their face (or their property!) in thousands of papers send their bill ?

You might have gotten the right to use our images (in the name of "news gathering"), but nobody has mentioned that you can do that for free ...

What do you think, a dime per printed or electronic copy ? Thats just $100.- for a thousand papers, a bargain if you ask me.

Re:Should newscorps be allowed to freeload ? (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986751)

Not to mention the massive bill that must be on the way from the Wikimedia Foundation. That'll solve the fundraising problem this year.

Will People Pay? (4, Insightful)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986609)

Will people pay for well-reasoned, researched, and written commentary and opinion columns?

I would, but not the price of a year's subscription for print. I would pay that, however, if I had unfettered access to, e.g., all (or most) Canadian newspapers online; including the small, local papers. Similarly for a major English-language paper from each country.

This simulates the blog experience - access to a multitude of differing viewpoints, but with financing to be able to do a good to excellent job.

Re:Will People Pay? (4, Insightful)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986681)

Absolutely they will. Anyone who has been in the UK recently can't help but have seen some coverage of the MP Expenses scandal which The Telegraph [telegraph.co.uk] has been milking for a couple of weeks now. This is good old fashioned journalism at its best; a competent team of reporters going over a huge amount of data and expressing it clearly and succinctly in terms the public can understand. Sure, there's some sensationalism in there too, but the results speak for themselves; a respectable UK broadsheet seeing an increase in circulation of over 50,000 a day is phenomenal for a medium that is supposed to have been left in the dust by "iReporters" and the "Blogosphere". You can bet that there has been a similar uptick in what the paper is charging people wanting to advertise in the paper as well, and it's probably already a forgone conclusion which paper will be walking away with the big journalism awards in the UK this year.

John Naughton's approach is probably the correct one, but as we've seen from the examples set by the music and movie industries, the media business isn't exactly quick to adapt and has the funds to struggle on for a very long time. I'm all for seeing a few of Rupert Murdoch's red tops go to the wall, but unfortunately "Peter and Jordon to divorce" still sells far more papers than "MP claimed for moat on expenses" (yes, really [telegraph.co.uk] ). It's probably going to be a case of the few standing taking all, but unfortunately I suspect that some of those left standing are going to be those who have the funds to muddle and sue their way through the end.

Re:Will People Pay? (4, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986889)

... the MP Expenses scandal which The Telegraph has been milking for a couple of weeks now. This is good old fashioned journalism at its best; a competent team of reporters going over a huge amount of data and expressing it clearly and succinctly in terms the public can understand.

In the US, people are concerned about how to pay for "investigative journalism". The only problem with this is that it is largely dead already in the US. The same person who tried to convince the SEC that Bernie Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme took his information to major newspapers also. Did they follow up? Another example: there was an interview in NPR with a reporter who, two to three years ago had been investigating and writing about how bad things were going to happen to the financial system -- so investigative journalism is still alive in the US? Nope, she wrote for the UK's Financial Times.

But the big problem with US newspapers is that, as an industry, it is massively overstaffed. There are far too many newspapers, each with its own newsroom and, more importantly, its own overhead. We don't need so many newspapers. Competition amongst newspapers is not required because real competition from other news sources exists.

Re:Will People Pay? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27987119)

Will people pay for well-reasoned, researched, and written commentary and opinion columns?

It doesn't exist.

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward-reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story-and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

"Why Speculate." Michael Crichton, 2002

Re:Will People Pay? (1)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987339)

No, I wouldn't pay for an online version of the current model.

I would pay for a service that gives me content I care about on the forefront and fades away crap I don't care about. In the old newspaper model, I have to skip over stories about horse racing. In the new newspaper model, my virtual newspaper would not contain these stories.

True Investigative Journalism (4, Interesting)

tmosley (996283) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986629)

It seems likely to me that the only way for these guys to really survive is going to be for them to get back to doing real, hard hitting investigative journalism. Anyone can and does do the shallow stuff. Blogs will certainly fill that niche, and they will remain free. What you can charge for is first access to breaking news and good investigative journalism. Want to see where the money trail leads in the bank bailouts? You'll have to subscribe to our premium service. Want to hear which of your local politicians is taking kickbacks from government contractors? That'll be a one time fee, or free to our subscribers.

The days of relying on the news wire are over, guys. Anyone can do that, and they can do it without having to pay a single salary, while making money off of ad content. In a perfectly competitive system, consumer costs approach the marginal costs. When something is basically free, or cheap enough to be ad supported, then it will be. If the audience is limited, or the costs too high, than a fee to read will be used, or some other model will emerge. This is how the market works. It drives non-competitive players out of the market. On a side note, the music industry would do well to adopt a similar strategy (ie the music is free/ad supported, but the concerts are not).

A question of trust (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987121)

Want to see where the money trail leads in the bank bailouts? You'll have to subscribe to our premium service. Want to hear which of your local politicians is taking kickbacks from government contractors? That'll be a one time fee, or free to our subscribers.

Want to keep us quiet about where the money trail leads? Just give us a cut of that kickback larger than the sum of one-time fees we'd collect to spill the beans.

Re:True Investigative Journalism (1)

viyh (620825) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987141)

I just don't think that will work. Twitter has killed the concept of first access to anything. This is the age of instant information spreading like wildfire. There are lots of good blogs out there doing in-depth "investigative journalism", or at least good enough that it will suffice for people much more than something they have to pay for. A new business model must be invented. People don't want to pay to know something is happening when they know that they can now get that information for free.

Re:True Investigative Journalism (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987315)

The amount of noise out there would make it tough to get useful information like that. Local news won't be nearly as vulnerable to that either.

Re:True Investigative Journalism (1)

viyh (620825) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987365)

That's why filtering the noise (aka Google) has become such an important business. If realtime services, such as Twitter, can figure out how to get relevant and useful information to the top of search results, this is how news will spread.

Is Murdoch living In Soviet Russia? (4, Funny)

Bazman (4849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986633)

Surely Murdoch's effort to monetarize News Corp content is not 'make the bastards pay', but 'make us pay the bastards'?

Chicken and the Egg problem... (4, Insightful)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986655)

The problem with funding news isn't itself news. The reason I watch and respect a news service is because they put resources into investigating the world and offering valuable insight. But I also aknowledge, that I can be occasionally pulled into cheap editorial content.

Guess which one's cheaper.

So, in the commercial news business, the industry has once again shifted drastically towards the cost-conscious editorial and rehashed-news dominance. Everyone's using the same sources, and the sources are dwindling. And because of that, the feeling that any given news provider has unique value is only contained in the unique voice they give themselves, but even that is becoming a formless soup.

The news providers provide less meaningful news, leading to less interest, leading to less money, leading to more editorial dominance, and so on... mostly because the global pool of money has shrunk so much to prevent many real sparks of bold investigative journalism from being worth the risk in the environment. Like with the chicken and the egg, even when we've learned that the egg is far older than any chicken, it doesn't get us more chicken.

That's why I've been turning to the BBC (and the CBC) more often. Put whatever hate you want on socialism, but it really does improve on capitalism when it comes to allowing media to do an effective job at funding news. They're certainly not perfect - but the signal to noise ratio is so much better, in terms of what remains after the bullshit filter, from my biased perspective. PBS/NPR are also nice in spots, but they really have lacked diversity, as administrations have waged ideological wars through appointments.

That's my fix for reliable news sources - make funding more independent from news content, and get more international perspective where possible.

Ryan Fenton

Re:Chicken and the Egg problem... (0, Flamebait)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986773)

Please don't turn to the BBC. They're horribly biased towards certain agendas, including banning drugs, banning guns, banning knives, socialist government, reduction of civil liberties, promotion of police power and (in the UK) populist claptrap.

Re:Chicken and the Egg problem... (1)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986833)

Of course - that's why I invoked the bullshit filter. Also known as the baloney detection kit. Everyone's got perspective, from statisticians and pollsters, to respected scientists and doctors. The BBC has a lot of biased voices - and many I disagree with, such as with most of the issues you mentioned. That doesn't make them a bad news source.

Whatever your take on their perspective, they DO tend to do their homework at the BBC, and tend to avoid drawing unnecessary conclusions outside their editorials.

In addition to the BBC, I also tend to visit James Randi's site [randi.org] a lot.

Bullshit filters don't always work, but they do help you see data closer to its actual worth. I find a healthy dose of perspectives you can respect with even if you occasionally disagree to be healthy both for keeping your bullshit filter active.

Ryan Fenton

Re:Chicken and the Egg problem... (2, Funny)

American Terrorist (1494195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986843)

They're horribly biased towards certain agendas, including banning drugs, banning guns, banning knives, socialist government, reduction of civil liberties, promotion of police power and (in the UK) populist claptrap.

With the exception of banning drugs and populist claptrap, I like all of those ideas. I'll take the BBC over Fox News any day.

Re:Chicken and the Egg problem... (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986951)

promotion of police power

Really? their on the day coverage of the G20 protests was the least biased IMO! I think it was the guardian that broke the police abuse stuff first, but the BBC was the least full of anti-protester BS that i saw on the day.

Re:Chicken and the Egg problem... (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986935)

That's why I've been turning to the BBC (and the CBC) more often. Put whatever hate you want on socialism, but it really does improve on capitalism when it comes to allowing media to do an effective job at funding news.

This seem to be to be oversimplyfying complex issues. Saying that BBC is doing more reasearch, or is more objective, than other unamed news sources because of Socialism Vs Capitalism sounds ludicrus. Look at Cuba, or certain South American nations, and tell me how they "allow the media to do an effective job".

Of course personally I am from Norway which could be said to be far more socialistic than even Britain, still most people in Norway wouldn't call themselves socialists and they would take serious exception if you called them, or this country, socialist.

Perhaps the strongest argument here is that more, or more enforced, regulation regarding reporting of News (or more specifically misleading or liying in News) is taking place in Britain, and other European countries, and that therefore it is slightly harder for Media in those countries to post pure bullshit (though they can still mislead or write ignorant stupid articles).

Say what you like about socialism or capitalism, but most European states seems content to pick what they like from both those -isms, and several others, and making their own sort of Government as they go along.

Re:Chicken and the Egg problem... (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986965)

Perhaps the strongest argument here is that more, or more enforced, regulation regarding reporting of News (or more specifically misleading or liying in News) is taking place in Britain, and other European countries, and that therefore it is slightly harder for Media in those countries to post pure bullshit (though they can still mislead or write ignorant stupid articles).

What about the sun, the mail and the express? Most of the 'news'papers in this country are full of pure bullshit. I think its the fact that the BBC provides a consistent quality that forces some media outlets to up their game (channel4, telegraph, guardian, etc).

Re:Chicken and the Egg problem... (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987001)

What about the sun, the mail and the express? Most of the 'news'papers in this country are full of pure bullshit. I think its the fact that the BBC provides a consistent quality that forces some media outlets to up their game (channel4, telegraph, guardian, etc).

I certainly won't disagree with that. I was more assailing the proposition that the reason the BBC is better at delivering quality than certain American, or others, providers was because of Socialism Vs Capitalism; a notion I reject. Personally I believe political ideas get implemented differently depending upon who, when and where; and that the general educational level, and general midset; of British Citizens is far more influencial regarding how they get their news than any Socialstic Vs Capitalistic argument.

Naked News will survive... (4, Funny)

Mishotaki (957104) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986667)

Naked News will survive much longer than their paid service.

We all know we prefer to pay to see women undress than a dressed person reading the same news...

There's a big thing missing... (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986689)

...is that most of the "easy fruit" of reporting that basicly just being on site and report what's happening is easily done by regular people, there's always someone who likes to talk about it. They can blog and twitter and take cell phone pictures and videos on youtube. Other sections are much better covered by special services such as online marketplaces. Other things is just stuff anybody can and do write about like sports events and cd/film reviews and such. If you go through the newspaper with such a critical eye there's not really much that you really can not get from any other source.

Re:There's a big thing missing... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27987083)

They can blog and twitter and take cell phone pictures and videos on youtube.

Some of us would like our news to be a little more than:

"Omg I just saw a guy that looks just like this guy this morning walking up harriet. 'cept his shirt said 'college'"[1 [twitter.com] ]

Re:There's a big thing missing... (4, Interesting)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987319)

...is that most of the "easy fruit" of reporting that basicly just being on site and report what's happening is easily done by regular people, there's always someone who likes to talk about it.

Time for another Slashdot Pop Quiz. Which of the following is most true?

a) Regular people are willing to regularly attend hearings on the local, state or federal level;

b) Regular people have a budget to attend and cover those hearings;

c) Regular people have an extensive network of contacts in local, state, or federal governments with whom they've developed relationships that facilitate ferreting out new stories, ongoing consent to both on and off-record quoting, and cross-checking facts; or

d) Regular people watch American Idol.

The answer is obviously (d). Now if you're feeling inspired, pick a topic. Doesn't have to be government. After you've spent a few weeks researching who the movers and shakers are, see if you can get your name and email address added to the list of folks who regularly receive information, say, something ordinary like press releases. Your odds are higher than trying to get someone important to actually take your calls, but those odds are probably still slim to none.

When you get round to discovering you've got nothing to contribute, you'll be ready to blog about it anyway along with countless others who are doing the same. Hopefully by then you've gained some respect for reporters, most of whom are employed by newspapers. If not, I guess we'll have to sit back and wait for that traffic accident, meteor landing in your backyard, or other one-off event to occur for you to play Regular Guy Reporter.

Murdoch: the free Internet is over (1, Insightful)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986731)

Media commentators fear for the future of investigative journalism [today.com] . "How can we hold governments' feet to the fire without money to pay our great reporters? Where would you get your recycled wire feeds, your Garfield cartoons?"

Newspapers have suffered badly since the collapse of their previous business model of selling readers to advertisers on a local monopoly basis. The replacement models appear to involve phlogiston, caloric and luminiferous aether.

Publishers hold that it is natural for readers to pay what advertisers once did, just as cows have to make up the difference out of their own pockets when the price of milk falls.

"We have to educate people that free doesn't work, particularly for us," said Vanessa Thorpe of the Guardian Media Group. "I tried an advertorial repeating several times that nothing will be free any more, to magic it into happening. I also subtly implied the Pirate Bay were Nazis -- HITLER! HITLER! HITLER! -- so we'll see if we can make that one fly too."

Publishers have also explored the notion of getting Google to pay its "fair share" for so parasitically leading people to newspapers' websites. The Wikimedia Foundation promptly started billing journalists for their reprints from Wikipedia. "We feel this is completely unfair," said Tom Curley of the Associated Press, "as real news stories spring forth from the heads of accredited reporters in an immaculate creation from nothingness. My preciousss [today.com] ." Maurice Jarre was unavailable for comment.

Subscription model (3, Informative)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986759)

Many 'large' newspapers are part of media conglomerates that also control cable systems and radio stations. In order for the newspaper protion to survive they will have to cease providing 'free' service to non-subscribers. Cablevision, which controls the Long Island, New York-based Newsday, will be changing their website to a subscription only service [newsday.com] starting in June of 2009. Long Island Cablevision subscribers will have access to the site as part of their cable service, while others will have to pay if they want more than 'limited' news. Apparently the S.F. Chronicle will be doing the same thing soon [mediabistro.com] . This is probably the start of a trend that will continue as these companies struggle to make a profit.

Stupid people don't want news they want olds (1)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986761)

FoxNews and its ilk such as the Sun newspaper in the UK represent where news is headed. The likes of Rush Limberger Cheese of an argument are at the vanguard of this trend.

Put simply people want their bigotry and opinions confirmed by the "news" not to get the facts and have to make up their own mind.

This is what is killing decent journalism WAY more than the internet. Its the rise of individualised news which presents opinions as facts and anyone who disagrees as a terrorist. The internet has aided this explosion by enabling people to create ever more extreme opinions and to move further and further away from the facts.

Will this trend stop? God I hope so, but given that the primary drivers of this shift to "truthiness" are the politicians then its hard to see how.

Re:Stupid people don't want news they want olds (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986787)

The great thing is that the Metro is taking out the Sun. If you're pushing complete fluff [today.com] , free is the right price point.

The difference in quality is becoming clear (3, Insightful)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986799)

In the days where normal people couldn't have their opinions read / heard / seen by the masses, the position of those in organizations like newspapers had some perceived value to them. With the widespread adoption of the internet allowing more people than ever to have their opinions widely spread we are starting to see that many so called "professional" writers are not that much better than amateurs with blogs. We can do what they do for free. There are "proper journalists" who do stand out, but those are the minority, not the majority.

We have also long seen that "news" organizations are nothing more than agenda machines who will seek to feed every story through their political / moral / religious agenda to try and influence their audience......again I ask, what is so different about bloggers? The concept that being part of an organization brings a level of trusted journalism is mostly bullshit. It does carry the guarantee that the story put out will be part of that agenda, regardless of how much they have to twist it out of all context to make it fit.

Any source of "news" is reliant on it's credibility. That credibility is earned, not paid for by sponsors. Traditional news organizations have long held the upper hand and abused the truth for their own ends with nobody else as an alternative. They now face the facts that many bloggers have more credibility than the so called "professionals". They now face the fact that bloggers content is just a click away.

Poor journalists will fall in the face of this, no doubt whining to their unions and anyone who will listen that they're being hard done by and that "the public good" will be harmed by their unemployment while journalists who have stood firm and tried their hardest to "report" the news rather than try to "set" the news to a particular agenda will prosper. Reputation is everything.

Fox News is an perfect example of an agenda network with the name "news" in the title to try and pretend otherwise. Given their collusion with the Bush regime and detachment from reality they deserve all the karma they have coming.

"make the bastards pay" or sense of self-worth? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986803)

I think "Make the bastards pay" is a pretty crude way to put the concept of what Murdoch is trying to do.

He is simply saying, we have content that I think is valuable, let's look and see if there is any way to have people pay for it the same way people are wiling to pay for the Wall St. Journal. It's not the concept of "the bastards are stealing our news", it's a sense of self-worth that you need to have to succeed in business.

Now the trouble will be if the news they offer is too commodity, then they are going to have trouble finding people wanting to pay (witness the NYT paid content that went free a while ago). But surely there's room for a paid service that offers truly hard reporting instead of almost wholly editorial content.

Editorial content i(even quality editorial content) s free now thanks to blogs, I don't think you can change that much. It's the reporting that is key now.

Re:"make the bastards pay" or sense of self-worth? (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986823)

There is indeed: it's called the Wall Street Journal. Whose editorials smoke crack, but whose news reporting is firmly reality-based. And people pay for that.

This is progress, and it's inevitable (2, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986827)

New technology becomes widespread when it makes it easier for human beings to accomplish the same task with less human labor, or to accomplish a new goal that meets human desires. That's why we work to invent technology.

The internet makes it possible now for basically everyone who was a news subscriber before to get their information from any source they can send a web browser to, instead of just dead tree products.
Right now, there are more news outlets and news writers than there are people willing to pay for them. Hard fact.

A lot of people blame the greasy feel of newsprint, or Craiglist, or the current advertising crash, or things they don't like about the local newspaper. That isn't the problem. Right now, the market has too many sellers.

How's it going to end up? I don't know. One interesting fact I found is that for specific, timely information about a specific subject, nothing beats an online message board. For researching my whole path to medical school, residency, and beyond I spent hundreds of hours on the "studentdoctor.net" forums, and I learned more frank information than any book or news article about becoming a physician could have ever taught me.

Ditto for say, learning how to tune a computer for maximum performance, or how to properly install an SSD.

Maybe the news outlets of the future will be identity verified online forums where local citizens discuss local city news. Everyone will receive electronic versions of just the big, world famous newspapers (aka Wall street Journal/New York Times) on devices like the kindle.

Journalism worth paying for, NPR, PBS (1)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986853)

Rupert Murdoch has tasked a team with finding a way of charging for News Corp content

LOL, I'm sure he is. The absurdity of Murdoch's news channel here in the States became so outrageous I decided I wasn't willing to subsidize it with the channels I did want to watch on satellite, so I cancelled the satellite subscription and installed an antenna in the attic to pick up OTA DTV/HDTV and get my journalism from PBS [pbs.org] .

Its not that journalism isn't worth paying for, its that you need to find value in the journalism that is worth paying for. Values like truth, honesty, facts, and breadth of coverage are valuable and in short supply in some news outlets. Racism, hate, ignorance, and titillation that focuses on those core weaknesses is not something worth paying for in journalism.

NPR [npr.org] is another valuable journalistic outlet worth paying for. Feel free to watch or listen to either and instead of paying Murdoch for the garbage he purveys consider a donation to support real journalism.

I don't share your religious convictions (1)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986885)

It's absolutely true that some people will find a way to continue making a living delivering news (people want it, after all,) and that others will provide news and commentary for free.

  If you are a religious free market nut, you may think this is an improvement over current circumstances. To a heretic such as myself, this is clearly not an improvement over our current circumstances where, desultory as it may be, there has been some effort to keep the general public informed, particularly on events of local or civic relevance. Meanwhile, billionaire glamor publishers like Murdoch and Eli Broad will increase their already disproportionate influence over public discourse. Fantastic.

  So, as a public service, municipalities should set up non-profit local newspapers with independent editorial staffs (I would suggest direct election of editors, with the contents of the newspaper split between the top five vote-getters who can then publish whatever they want without even consulting one another if they wish.) If this sounds impossible, given how popular it would be with the public (particularly in large cities), that tells you how thoroughly degraded our political culture has become. Turning news into even-more of a for-profit venture with no broader responsibility to the community will degrade our political culture further, until we end up a kleptocracy like Mexico or Italy.

All evil comes from Craigslist (1)

One Louder (595430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986921)

Anyone notice the increase in stories in the mainstream media connecting Craigslist to various crimes - the "Craigslist robber" [sfgate.com] , selling babies on Craigslist [14wfie.com] , Cragislist hookers [bostonherald.com] , Craigslist attempted murderers [nwsource.com] , Craigslist scammers [thenewstribune.com] , etc, etc.

It seems that every struggling newspaper in the country goes to some effort to tie Craigslist to any local crime. I don't recall any of these papers connecting crimes to their own classified ads. It's almost like these papers have some sort of agenda...

I'll take the xBC model, please (1)

leftie (667677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986957)

The BBC, CBC media model is far from perfect, but it's far better than the nonsense that pretends a news in the US.

I can live with the occasional antiques show stuck in the middle of the prime time schedule to get some actual foreign news coverage.

What costs do news aggregrators have? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987019)

So I don't recall seeing any journalists, editors or reporters working for google. They are in the unique position of being around as long as there is some company out there to absorb the costs of generating news. So google can sit around and wait for all the companies that actually generate news to die away all the while sucking margin out of those companies, as I'm sure that google gets compensated in some way for sending users to $news_site.

The worst part about google's news is that if I search for something, I get the same news article from 10 different sources, all which are just reposting the same AP/Reuters article. Then again, how would google determine that user X should see the AP/Reuters article from $newsite_A vs $newsite_B.

I'm not going to fault google as they have a good business model, albeit one that will ultimately help with driving those that report the news out of business.

Capitalism and news is a joke... wikileaks FTW (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987077)

... I think even most capitalists can agree that for profit news only perpetuates those who have money to buy and pay people off and threaten peoples jobs so we never hear about all the corruption. We've seen more real news out of Wikileaks then all commercial news sites combined, you will see shit on wikileaks you will never find on commercial and government owned (really just another avenue of threat for private sector, since private men own the government anyway - the revolving door).

Commercial sites exist to make money, not give us real news. Unforunately the market for real news is rather small, and people with the intellect and skills to weigh truth from falsehood is scarce (lets not forget 50% of america believes in creationism). So people want news tailored to their cultural values and that means "real news" never really gets at truth but only what makes them money and doesn't piss off their viewers.

The Lesson From Norway (2, Interesting)

andersh (229403) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987143)

Norwegian newspapers have managed the transition and are now making almost half their money from the online version.

How did they do it? You make it free and accessible, you add services and features. Exclusive video content and articles. The online and print divisions are separate, with dedicated staff and management.

Obviously it helps that Scandinavians read more newspapers than the rest of the world, and that high-speed Internet is widely available and affordable!

Advertising is the most important revenue source, however they now make more money from services like social networking etc. People pay monthly fees for services they actually want.

So at least in Scandinavia online news will continue to be free, hopefully the US and UK will find business models that work for them.

Here are my sources:
http://whatsnewmedia.org/2007/09/23/newspaper-v-internet-if-you-cant-beat- [whatsnewmedia.org] âem-join-âem/
http://abluteau.wordpress.com/2009/04/01/european-newspapers-find-creative-ways-to-thrive-in-the-internet-age/ [wordpress.com]

Do Paperboys and girls exist anymore? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987153)

Are any newspapers actually delivered by paperboys and girls? Or is it just adults throwing them out of a moving vehicle?

20 years ago I was a paperboy for The Boston Globe, I had 30 houses on my route and the daily paper had to be delivered by 7 while the sat/sun had to be delivered by 8. Paper had to be placed in the location of the recipients choosing. Most wanted it behind the storm door so it was dry. On Sundays we had to assemble the paper as it was delivered by The Globe to my driveway in three piles (Ads, news, sports). If the weather permitted, I could ride my bike, otherwise I walked it (had a cart or an orange/white bag).

I had to "collect" from the customer's on the route and then pay the paper office, I could collect weekly or preferably monthly, as this reduced my trips to the office.

Great way for a kid to make a few bucks a week (tips were where it was at, especially at X-Mas time). Plus if you delivered your route nonstop for 3years, the Globe gave you a $5,000 scholarship to any college.

There are a few ways this can go. (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987183)

1) Fewer writers serve more readers and make more money (Rowling)
2) Fewer writers serve more readers and make the same money-- news is cheaper for the rest of us.
3) Fewer writers serve more readers and make the less money-- (the offshoring/outsourcing/underemployment model forming in large parts of the economy).

For decades the papers had the news created once by AP or Reuters and then they sold that same news over and over in different cities. With the excess money they paid a few columnists whose ultimate goal was to get syndicated across a lot of papers.

Now with the web, if AP/Reuters news is available anywhere for free- then why would you pay for it?

The columnists can still make money- they needed to go the blog route and take over their own destinies.
But there is a ton more competition for columnists and hard news won't support 2500 papers any more- in the end it supports 1 news source on the web.

And then there is cable TV that repeats the news every 30 minutes so you do not need a paper for a large swath of news.

I subscribe to my local paper but it is not doing well.

It's not Google killing the news sites (3, Interesting)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987247)

I'm afraid it's not Google killing the news sites. It's the Internet itself. The Internet made it possible for anybody who wants to to publish cheaply and get read by a world-wide audience, and in the process killed the mere reporting of news as a paying job.

Why should I go to a news site to read a reprint of a press release from a company when I can go to that company's own Web site and read the original press release? Why should I read a news report of the latest scientific breakthrough when I can go to the scientist's own site and read his own paper on it? Why should I read the news reports of a disaster when I can go to the Twitter feeds and Livejournals of people who're actually there and read their first-hand reports, or go to the web sites of the emergency-services agencies in the area and read their updates on the situation? And in all of those cases, those first-hand sources aren't in the business of reporting news. They don't particularly care whether they get paid for generating their content, they've got other reasons of their own for wanting that content visible. And, as in so many things, the Internet's making it harder and harder for those middlemen whose business model is to get between the source of something and the eventual consumer and charge for transferring that something from the source to the destination.

Now, news sites aren't doomed. But to survive they're going to have to do something more than just report the news. They're going to have to start pulling together many sources of different information, analyzing all of it and putting together the pieces that it isn't immediately obvious fit together. Of course, that's going to be kind of hard seeing as they've spent the last decade or so wiping all traces of that out of their organizations because investigative journalism of any quality doesn't produce the Holy ROI.

Newspaper revenue stream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27987417)

Newspapers have always relied to one degree or another on advertising revenue.
New model. Take your general content online free, let the faceless mobs out there send in content/contributions, and charge a monthly fee for in-depth coverage. Everybody reads your rag (ad revenue), and if it's really good, people will pay for the extra content. Tack on some subscriber bennies (coupons or some such nonsense), keep ads to a minimum in the premium content, and charge alot more for ad space there.

Someone else has already said it, but NO, it's not worth CNN/New York Times staff and reporters salaries for garbage that Bubba can twitter, blog, email, or myspace. There is PLENTY of money out there to support real reporting on relevant issues. There are PLENTY of real issues which require real reporting, instead of the infotainment trash. Newspapers are going to have to ....OMG, here it comes.....CHANGE in order to survive. Welcome to the future. The future is now.

I'd pay for real news, unfortunately all I get is "OMG the market is up.", "OMG the market is down", and "OMG this celebrity (insert random amoral and insane celebrity shenanigans here)"

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