If there's no money in news reporting will professional journalists disappear?

One after another the big papers are shrinking, retrenching or collapsing entirely. What happens to the profession of being a serious journalist or reporter when the news is effectively free for anyone with a web link and a display screen of some kind. If you can’t even make a middle class income being a serous journalist what happens to professional standards?

There’s TV, you know. And radio. And trade publications.

I should have said professional ‘news’ journalists. I don’t see much true in-depth analytical reporting on the TV the same way you might see in a major Washington Post or New York Times story. TV “journalism” is typically a synopsis of newspaper reports combined with after the fact interviews and is typically done well after the story has broken.

Re people working in trade publications they may be experts in their fields, but they aren’t really “news” journalists in the sense of being a professional news reporter.

Someone still has to go to those places and report, unless you’re willing to take the Sudanese press release at face value.

Shows like 60 minutes do investigative reporting. There probably aren’t enough of them to take up the slack of newspapers though.

So far as I know, news magazines (Times, Newsweek) are doing OK, though I could be wrong. And of course some such magazines are supported largely by donations or endowments (Mother Jones, etc.) Of course, most of these are national concerns, so even if they take up the slack by increasing their national reporting, local reporting is probably going to suffer.

And of course, some websites do some original reporting, though I agree most of it is reactive to news reported elsewhere.

I was, in fact, wrong, though it looks like Time will be with us for a while.

Ironically, I would’ve known that if I’d read the NY TImes.

Newspapers won’t all die at the same time. As the weaker ones go, the remaining papers will gain more market share, will snap up the better staff from the dead ones, they’ll do a better job of embracing new media, and their profitability will improve. We may soon have fewer newspapers but we’ll never have none.

The big city I live near, Toronto, has four newspapers, all of which are mediocre. The truth is that you don’t really need four mainstream newspapers in one city; why not allow the marketplace to cut it to two or three?

One of the biggest problems is that the newpapers have been destroying their competitive advantage for years. They keep cutting back on local and foreign bureaus - where they used to get lots of in-depth reporting.

Problem is, that’s pretty much what a lot of “news” is these days; they just ask someone’s public relation department for a quote and print it.

Not our experience in Detroit. Years ago the newspapers killed the unions. We had 3 papers at one time. The Times died . Then the remaining 2 merged. There is no competition for news anymore. Starting later this month, our rag will home deliver 3 days a week. They will charge for online as part of the subscription. The workers and reporters have no recourse. They do what they are told .

Why can’t a news website be a home for “professional” and “serious” journalists. There’s nothing about the web that makes that inherently impossible.

You have to have the financing to actually witness the events. You can not go to war zones without approval. You are limited in access. There are lots of reasons a stay at homer would be short on real experience.

Some possibilities:
a) Newspapers will gradually learn how to make more money from online advertising. Remember that dead-tree newspapers also make most of their money through ads. And their online editions probably have far more readers than their print editions ever did.

b) Newspapers will find ways of cuttings costs while maintaining the quality of their core product which is reporting. This can be done by cutting features like movie reviews which don’t require a local journalist. Some support functions could be outsourced to low-cost countries without compromising quality. Interns and volunteers could be used more to generate content.

c) Foundations, universities and other non-profits will increasingly fund the most important service that local newspapers provide: investigative reporting on government and business. Despite its importance it’s probably a fairly small portion of the total costs of newspapers so it wouldn’t necessarily be that difficult to fund through the non-profit sector.

The bottom line is that while technology may well destroy a particular model of distributing newspapers I doubt it will destroy the underlying product. Technology is greatly reducing the costs of both producing and distributing news. My bet is that both the quality and quantity of news will be greater 20 years from now though a lot of it may not be from traditional newspapers.

Who said anything about stay-at-homers? I was suggesting something a bit more organzied such as CNN.com or NYTimes.com? I don’t think there is anything that could keep an independant, online-only news website from existing.

But beyond war zones, the “stay-at-homers”, as you call them, do pretty well in other categories of news. And local news wouldn’t require any huge startup costs or special permits and would probably thrive online.

I don’t really understand why they aren’t doing this now. NYTimes.com is the 25th most visited website in the US, that’s gotta translate to a couple million pairs of eyes a day. And an online add ought to be worth more then a print ad, since you can’t put a clickable link in a print ad, and you don’t have to pay for presses, paper or distribution to put an ad online (though obviously there’s servers and IT costs). Obviously not every paper can have such a strong online presence, but I don’t understand how the major city dailys aren’t easily making up for lost paper subscribers with online advertising.

Just turned my ad-blocker off and went to the book review part of nytimes.com. Expected they woulda cut a deal with Amazon or BarnesandNobel.com to link an add directly from a book review to that books page on Amazon, etc. Couldn’t find any such thing, which seems silly. Such a deal seems like it ought to be worth a few million annually right there.

They don’t even need to “cut a deal”. Any schmoe with a website can put an Amazon Associate link on their website and get money when people click.

The fact that a huge website with a huge book review section like the NY Times isn’t doing just goes to show you that newspapermen cannot run websites. Not even a little bit.

Many of them are. My wife, who is a director for an online business, practically has to fight off the papers with a bat. They’re DESPERATE for online advertisers.

She doesn’t use them much, though, because they simply are not worth it. Newspapers sites are, consistently, a complete waste of her marketing dollars. They just finished a test campaign with a very larege and famous U.S. newspaper - not the Times, but you’ve heard of it - and it was a total, utter bust.

Real journalism is essentially dead already. If you want info about what’s going on, blogs provide a much better system.

But yeah, a professional is someone who gets paid to perform that job, so pretty much by definition they will disappear.

Yes, but Detroit is dying and its experience is not relevant to a city that isn’t dying. A healthy city like New York or Nashville will have a very different experience.