Saturday 27 December 2008

'Don't expect web sites to hire somebody to sit through town council meetings'

A Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Paul Mulshine, a columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger, poignantly headlined "All I Wanted for Christmas Was a Newspaper", has real resonance for regional journalists in the UK.
Mulshine says he has seen a number of top reporters leaving his newspaper but does not think their work will be replicated by web sites.
He argues that there is a real flaw in the thinking of those who herald the era of citizen journalism. "They assume newspapers are going out of business because we aren't doing what we in fact do amazingly well, which is to quickly analyze and report on complex public issues. The real reason they're under pressure is much more mundane. The Internet can carry ads more cheaply, particularly help-wanted and automotive ads.
"So if you want a car or a job, go to the Internet. But don't expect that Web site to hire somebody to sit through town-council meetings and explain to you why your taxes will be going up. Soon, newspapers won't be able to do it either.
"Over the past few weeks, I've watched a parade of top-notch reporters leave the Star-Ledger for the last time. . .If anyone out there in the blogosphere can tell me what the new model is, I will pronounce him the first genius I've ever encountered on the Internet."
I picked up Mulshine's piece via Adrian Monk's blog.

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