In the last week, thoughts of the future of journalism have gone to code red. It was one of those watershed weeks; more economic trouble at my newspaper and Boise’s daily paper and, well, at all of the papers. A meeting with a guy who suggested there are rich people out there who are finally realizing something must be done to preserve a modicum of watchdogging. Then waking up to an NPR series on the future of journalism, pointing to a few new models from not-for-profit to government supported to technology driven revenue models of the future.
Here’s a few links to get you started thinking about this too. In one of these stories, the point is made that there is no time to wait. So I started in on my personal j-schooling white papering yesterday.
GlobalPost relies on paid ads, premium content and online opportunities for paid subscribers and syndication to fund a large network of foreign correspondents. Writers are paid a retainer and earn a stake in the company. (Did you know that 20 million Chinese migrant workers have lost their jobs?)
Walter Isaacson at TIME, who claims to have invented banner ads and such, recommends a system of micropayments to pay for online journalism. Like dropping a coin into a slot:
One of history’s ironies is that hypertext — an embedded Web link that refers you to another page or site — had been invented by Ted Nelson in the early 1960s with the goal of enabling micropayments for content. He wanted to make sure that the people who created good stuff got rewarded for it. In his vision, all links on a page would facilitate the accrual of small, automatic payments for whatever content was accessed. Instead, the Web got caught up in the ethos that information wants to be free.
I want information to be free too. And I want to be paid to tell stories. And I don’t want pity or charity. And, frankly, I don’t want to need to worry about the business side of journalism. But it’s time to worry. Or at least to get serious.
If you are reading this, you probably expect to get your news for free online, as I do. So who should pay for its production people?