Small World News: What’s the Future of Online Journalism?

The following is cross-posted from Small World News. Check out the Small World News manifesto here

Brian Conley on RocketBoom

Brian Conley on RocketBoom

John Yemma writes about the speech given last Thursday by Marty Baron, Boston Globe editor, in the CS Monitor “Editor’s blog” Connecting the Dots.

Mr. Baron raised the hopeful image of a “new era of entrepreneurship.” This very image has been raised before many times. The question we should concern ourselves with is of course, where will it lead?

The New York Times purchased the Boston Globe in 1993, at the time one of its top regional competitors, and one of the nation’s most acclaimed and profitable newspapers. Although analysts say its been losing money since then, and the Globe had a 10% circulation drop in a six month period in 2008, the question has to be asked yet again why this occurred?

I remember the Boston Globe being the only paper covering the 2000 Presidential Debates with the courage to clarify the fact that police officers were the first to use violence against demonstrators, which later escalated into something resembling a full-scale riot by the end of the evening. However, I can’t help feeling that the quality of the Globe’s coverage decreased dramatically from this highlight in 2000 until the present-day.

I also can’t help feeling that the cause of such a decrease is directly tied to the profit motive. There was a previous era of entrepreneurship, just after World War I, when journalism truly began to flourish. Unfortunately individuals such as William Hearst and others, the first media moguls, were the ones whose motives for an earlier version of “a million page views” led to the eventual situation we find ourselves in today.

But it wasn’t their profit motive alone, it was also our failure to recognize that although freedom of speech must be a vehemently defended right, where there is a tendency toward profit and a bottom-line motive, regulation is a necessity.

Had the New York Times been prevented from purchasing its rival the Boston Globe in 1993, and other similarly monopolistic moves throughout the US media industry, perhaps a new era of entrepreneurship might have flourished sooner, one that recognized if we wish to have honest, forthright, quality journalism, we need to protect, cultivate, and value journalism as something which should never have a primary directive of selling soap. Either we are in the pursuit of honest, informed journalism, or we are in the business of selling soap. I don’t believe it can be both.

Last week I started to imagine for you a new world of journalism. I’d like to continue that with a few questions,

What do you want to see from journalists and newsmakers in the future?

What do you desire most that’s not available in your news currently?

Would you pay a subscription fee to support journalism that mattered to you?

What if it provided you the ability to ask questions of those interviewed?

What if it enabled you to interact with the producers and subjects of content?

What else might convince you to pay to support journalism that matters to you?


Please comment below and reblog!

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  • Ditto for Sam Zell buying the Chicago Tribune hoping he could flip it like a piece of real estate. I mean, he’s old, doesn’t need the money, clearly cares nothing about journalism, and has been destroying once excellent newspapers. Yuck.

    He was selling soap. That doesn’t work for journalism.

    No one really knows what”s coming next. Probably all sorts of mashups between different types of reporting. Web sites, social networking, print, everything.

  • Woody

    I have been supporting journalist for years, and donate monthly to Free Speech Radio News (, which is an independent news group that has over 150 reporters/stringers in over 70 countries around the world. They cover local and foreign news that most news groups never cover (even BBC, DSW and the like).

    For me, donating a small sum every month (along with several others) is well worth having a news source that’s not affiliated with a company, or that would feel pressure at losing fund from a sponsor if they cover certain stories. (The way PBS for example never ran documentaries about the destruction caused by the Exxon spills, for fear of losing sponsorship of Exxon/Mobil.)

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