The future of journalism for now

These days, if a piece of music or a book isn’t nauseatingly emotionless, derivative, and navel gazing, it really doesn’t get read by the “hipster” set who, whether anyone likes it or not, are defining our pop culture. Well, actually it’s Vice Magazine and a few others making the calls and then everyone else follows.

Point being, there is extremely little thought/effort put in to anything that gets published or released these days and these items that were small in number a few years ago are taking over. Part of it is information overload, part of it is laziness, and part of it is metrics-driven production which no one really understands still.

While music, literature, and art are by their very nature derivative and a result of the time and place in which they are created, the one art (yes, I still call it that when it’s good) that’s bothering me the most is journalism. In journalism there is a never ending flow of new information to use as material. Yet, the profession has become soulless and one of the most derivative creative outlets there is.

A perfect example is this “article” for new restaurant, Chambers. There is no writing there. It’s just quoting other blog articles with a few linking words to somewhat make it flow. Naturally in all of this, the intern that cobbled together this poo pearl of an article left out a great many actual articles since this is just mostly Yelp reviews, which are as authoritative as parrots. Needless to say, when you’re just corralling what others have said, you miss the greater conversation like how a court transcriber probably can’t tell you a word of what happened during the trial.

But this, this is what’s driving the numbers that are what publication owners still think drive sales as they’re stuck in a 19th century revenue model–the revenue model of printing advertisements which has been dead for decades although no one in print wants to admit it.

2 Replies to “The future of journalism for now”

  1. So, what’s the model? This is what’s generating some revenue for people to do this for a living.

    There are lots of free blogs out there. Most of them are crap, unlike yours which seems to have a voice and is interesting. And good blogs like yours make it harder for people like me to make a living as a professional, even though I have experience and can push a noun in front of a verb half decently (unlike apparently the kid doing the piece from Eater).

    If print is a dinosaur which is dying, that’s just a life cycle. But what takes its place? Because there’s a value in what the print people are doing that has to move into the new world. Or does it?

    (Again, thanks for the blog. As a lover of Catalunya, I’ve been happy to stumble across it.)

  2. I’m actually a professional writer as well which is why I have to pay my bills doing web work.

    The bigger issue isn’t that blogs are doing/giving it away for free, but more that the news industry’s revenue model is outdated. It’s based on a 19th century system of advertising which doesn’t and hasn’t worked for decades now. It’s just that we’re finally at a point where we can measure its failure. Until news figures out a new way to fund itself (and not by churning out crappy, scraped content) it’s really not going turn itself around.

    I think what will ultimately change is that people will again come around to the fact that good stuff costs money. The whole “freemium” process broke people off from the “everything free!” web of the late 90’s. The New Yorker seems to be a step in the right direction with their iPad app and the NYTimes has started gaining traction with some ideas that work. For a news outfit like the San Francisco Chronicle, it’s probably too late, but for quality writing, if it’s easy to pay for and affordable (which it should be now that we’ve eliminated printing costs) people will buy it.

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