Meanderings along journalism’s yellow line

More links on the blurring lines and familiar talking (arguing?) points between old media and new media, and why I feel like an armadillo on a lonesome Texas highway:

• Garrison Keillor is sort-of crochety about the impact of the Web on writers and creativity, revealing a mixed set of emotions despite a very gloomy headline in his latest column on Salon:

“The Internet is a powerful tide that is washing away some enormous castles and releasing a lovely sense of independence and playfulness in the American people. Millions of people have discovered the joys of seeing yourself in print — your own words! the unique essence of yourself, your stories, your jokes, your own peculiar take on the world — out there where anybody can see it! Wowser. . . .

“Unfortunately, nobody is earning a dime from this. So much work, so little pay. It’s tragic.”

• Gina Chen offers up some appetizing “artisanal” ideas about remaking the news, and they’re making me very, very hungry:

“The news organization no longer strives to make every story as relevant as possible to everybody. Instead, it aims to make individual stories highly relevant to small groups of readers who collectively add up to lots of people. (Think Camembert for me; classic goat cheese for you.) Beats are constructed to tap into existing communities that appreciate the particular ‘cheese’ or ‘bread’ you are offering.

The main luncheon item on my news “café” would be grilled Mahon and jamón sandwiches with an olive tapenade and homemade vine ripe tomato soup, but I haven’t sorted out the rest of my menu. I am famished right now!

If newspapers hadn’t been gutting their staffs, they might have enough kitchen hands available to customize the varying tastes of their readers.

• Is there a “right” way to do news on the Web? Some leading online journalism innovators believe so, but at Politics Daily, some old-school ideas still apply:

“The three-month-old venture has become a reemployment program for middle-aged journalists who lack the flash and dash of young bloggers — and that is by design. Melinda Henneberger, the former Newsweek and New York Times reporter who runs the site, says her goal is ‘to preserve the values of the mainstream media.’ And in doing so, she is flouting several conventions about what works on the Web.”

I can understand the need not to feel like chasing every news tidbit, breathlessly. In fact, I find that rather refreshing. But my own experience has me doubting that there’s much of an audience willing to read a steady diet of 5,000-word stories.

• Photojournalists around the world are finding their avocation in free fall, and not just because of the decline of newspapers. News photo agencies are undergoing the same convulsions as other media institutions:

“I find the present situation depressing, but I’m crazy enough to be hopeful. There have never been more images out there, and we need more help in sorting out all the information.”

• An unsigned editorial in The Digital Journalist, founded and staffed by photojournalists, comes out strongly in favor of pay walls for the news:

“This is now not an academic argument. The [New York] Times has already mortgaged its new building to help make its payroll each week. Those reporters and editors need to be paid. Otherwise, the news that we take for granted will simply stop.”

One could argue that the Times could have better spent its money than on a shiny, pricey new building with the newspaper business in trouble even before the recession. Yes, those journalists need to get paid, but a pay wall isn’t going to come close to making up for what’s being lost as the Times and other newspapers continue to bleed money and talented journalists.

(link via Kevin Sablan)

• In a snarky diatribe from one blowhard to another, Mark Cuban gets some blowback from Michael Wolff for being critical of Newser’s aggregating practices, among other crimes against new media:

“News has never been paid for. Practically speaking, it’s always been free. It may be that no one has ever in the history of time charged for anything other than the cost of production and delivery of news and usually not even that. The deal has been penny newspapers and free broadcast. News, Mark, has, is, and shall remain, an ad-sponsored form of media.”

Whom do you root for in this one? I’ve love to lock these guys in a padded room and see what transpires.


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