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Many Old Media journalists, like McChesney, cannot comprehend the “reporterless news” of the future 5/8/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in LA Times, McChesney, Reporterless, Sources.

In the series on the future of media appearing in the LA Times this week, Robert McChesney continues to do a fine job demonstrating not only the inability of many Old Media types like himself to grasp the future, but also their inability to grasp the past. Today, he calls for a reversal of newspaper budget cuts so that reporters can return to the kind of “digging” that historically made papers so valuable to America. But, the dirty little secret of Modern Journalism is that, even outside the growing use of wire stories that papers effortlessly reprint, the vast majority of stories have never required much digging at all. For virtually every news story, there have been sources willing to provide information for free (e.g. newsmakers, whistleblowers, witnesses, think tanks, litigants), and many sources even willing to pay to have their story told (e.g. think of the not-insignificant size of the Public Relations industry). In fact, the stories that most journalists believe represent the best of their profession, like Watergate and Enron, were almost entirely whistleblower-driven. Unfortunately for journalists, the Internet is revealing that there is little reason for news outlets to spend money on reporters if all they do is seek what news sources are already willing to give them, rewrite what news sources are already willing to write, and distribute what news sources are already able to distribute. This is not to say that today’s journalists might not find employment as valued middlemen in selecting stories, identifying responsible spokespersons on all sides, offering opinion, adding entertainment value, and building audiences. But, it is unwise for journalists to remain in a state of denial. Most news is about to go “reporterless.”


1. Larry - 5/9/07

ahhh., but you forget the $100M’s of dollars that was put together for the 2000 recount…remember? The one the newspapers did after the FL Supreme court was put back in its place.

They found that money easily enough (and surprisingly reported that Bush won every one but one (the most liberal ballot interpretation naturally) of THEIR recounts.

The money is there…they choose not to use it.

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