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What journalists can learn from striking Hollywood Writers on how to survive New Media 1/17/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in Middlemen.
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“We eliminate the middleman.” That’s the reason for their low prices according to late-night-TV hucksters. It’s also the promise or threat of the Internet, depending on your livelihood. In Hollywood, the endangered middlemen are the TV networks and big studios that control the distribution channels that stand between creative talent and their audiences — the broadcast, cable, and movie theater supply chains. In journalism, the endangered middlemen are the newspapers, TV networks, and TV stations that stand between newsmakers and news audiences.

So in Hollywood, rather than go on strike against the endangered middlemen, writers and other creatives should deliver their work over the Internet to bypass them, right? “Yes” says Netscape co-founder Mark Andreesen, calling for Hollywood to adapt Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial culture. “Not-so-fast” says seasoned screenwriter Roger L. Simon, who has doubts that most Hollywood creatives who have not already done so have the stomach or skills for such risk-taking. Yet he seems to suspect that, in the end, things may work out anyway for the 12,000 members of the Writers Guild because these are individuals who have been market-proven to have a talent that is much rarer than we might think it is. Time will tell.

Can journalists follow a similar script, and hold-out for the possibility of a similar happy ending? Actually, Hollywood Writers are more similar to news sources than to reporters — both have material that audiences crave, while reporters are repeaters of news sources’ work. Editors, on the other hand, are a different story. Those who can write and aggregate to entertain an audience are more similar to Hollywood Writers than reporters. So, let’s see. To survive as a journalist the best bet is to become an editor/aggregator who is willing to become an entrepreneur, surviving outside a middleman, Old Media organization. What might we call this exciting and promising new role? I got it! How about “blogger”?

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1. Media Mythbusters Blog » Blog Archive » R.I.P. Chevy Ombudsmen - 1/21/08

[…] observer of the business of journalism argues that the middleman is being superceded by more direct access to the news, and by more balance in […]


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