About Me

  • I'm CEO of Newspeg.com, a social news-sharing platform. I've spent 20 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies. You can read more about me here.

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« As the Post-Intelligencer Globe Turns | Main | Advice to Journalism Students »

March 12, 2009


Charlotte-Anne Lucas

Amen, Mark!
None of us welcome the demise of some newspapers.
But as I wrote last week, Newspapers don't own journalism (http://charlotteanne.wordpress.com/2009/03/04/newspapers-dont-own-journalism/).
Some fine journalism has been and is being committed in many other places, and that is worth celebrating!


Agreed - journalism isn't just daily newspapers. No media outlet is unaffected by meltdown. Publications everywhere are laying off staff, reducing news holes, slashing freelance budgets.

But my real point isn't that journalism needs pulped trees and ink to survive. Rather, it needs full time salaries to support full-time reporters (even at the pitiful amount reporters get) working at full-time professional organizations. Reporting is a profession, not a hobby; uncovering facts with an objective hand is grueling work. "Citizen journalists" don't have the time, nor probably the gumption, to replace professional reporters. Laid off reporters turned bloggers can partially fill the hole, but only partially -- full-time bloggers earn even less on average than poorly-paid staff writers and gain no benefits. They need real jobs, too.

So, who will feed and care for "a thousand journalistic flowers"? Without money, who will have the time and resources to do the in-depth digging, file the FOIA requests, go to the county building during working hours to check their registries? Also, without the power of an organization dedicated to unearthing information on their side, how will they extract information from recalcitrant authorities? (Good sources go far; sometimes a lawsuit goes farther.)

Yes, journalism is dying -- or at least getting ready to survive in a much reduced form. The old business model is over but "a thousand flowers" isn't a sustainable model, it's wishful thinking.

Mark Potts

I have no doubt that, over time, we'll see successful business models to support the sort of journalism that we're both rooting for.

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