Monday, March 26, 2012

Future of Journalists, Authors and Writers in Digital Economy

Adsense Earnings

I came across a Wall Street Journal Essay "The Economics of Giving it Away"[1] in Mint (A business daily with collaboration of WSJ in India) today ( 2 February 2009). The essay was written by Chris Anderson, Editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine.
The statement that attracted my attention is: "Running Google's Adsense ads on the side of your blog, no matter how popular it may be, will not pay you even minimum wage for the time you spend writing it. On a good month it might cover your hosting fees. I speak from experience." This statement is of interest for many who aspire to make money through writing blogs and internet articles. I argued in some forums that writing is a performing art. First and foremost the artist has an urge to perform. Many have that urge. Only very few of the artists make a lot of money. A large majority of them do not make money sufficient for minimum wage for the time they spend on it. But still they spend time and perform. Why? Because they love to.

Amateur Writers versus Professionals

Chris Anderson is the author of the popular book "The Long Tail". In it he argued that digital economy has made it possible for persons to provide niche services in amateur mode. The service provider is happy to provide and the receiver is happy with the service, an amateur provides. This exchange is undercutting professional mass service. The professional is losing market. According to Andersen, this amateur economy may become as big as mainstream professional economy.
Internet made writing easier. Blogs and now knol make writing more easier and more and more persons are becoming authors, writers and journalists with a minimum number of readers that sustain them. These amateur authors, writers and journalists are here to stay with a small number of readers. Are they undercutting the professional counterparts?
Yes says, Andersen [2]. According to him journalism jobs will be lost and news media could become smaller overall as its role changes in the digital information economy.
Andersen advised professionals to figure out where the market failure is in the amateur internet and do something that still has value and which people will pay for, either directly or in terms of their attention which can be monetised through advertising.

Media professionals have  to figure out how they can do something that adds value to the internet, that people will pay for, and that still costs less than the income that is derived from it. That is the  job, that's business in  the new competitive digital information marketplace.

Trends 2011

The Los Angeles Times reported in late 2008 that online income was enough to pay for the paper's entire print and online news staffs).

Trends 2010

Guardian - Panel discussion on Journalism in Digital Age

One crucial thing to remember is that the concept of 'journalism' is a separate thing from the concept of running a newspaper

Trends for 2009

Nathan Ketsdever [3] in his blog post "Citizen Journalism and Print Publications Trends for 2009" indicates the following features.
    1. Citizen journalism will certainly see a rise in 2009 as traditional newspapers either die or create hybrid business.
    2. Crowds will fund the news and crowds will provide news.
    3. Hyperlocal journalism will flourish.
    4. News through mobiles will be popular 

Increasing Audience for Online News

According to a  We Media/Zogby interactive poll 48% of respondents said their primary source of news and information is the internet, an increase from 40% a year ago, while 55% of those aged 18-29 named the net as their major source. People of 65 and over were less committed to the net, with 35% saying it is their main news source [4].

Entrepreneurial skills - Important for Journalists in the New Age

"We live in an entrepreneurial age, not an institutional one. That's been true of many professions for quite a while, and increasingly (and perhaps somewhat belatedly) it is true of journalism. The people having the most satisfying careers, it seems to me, are those who create a distinct signature for their work -- who add value to the public conversation through their individual talents -- rather than relying mostly on the reputation and institutional gravity of the organization they work for." -- John Harris, telling PressThink why he left the Washington Post for [5].
Harris left the Post for a well funded startup in Politico (part of Allbritton Communications). There have been more examples of journalists who have created their own mini-media enterprises online: Rafat Ali at PaidContent, Om Malik at GigaOm, Debra Galant at BaristaNet, Josh Marshall at TPM Media, Henry Abbott at TrueHoop (now owned by ESPN), and on and on. But journalism schools have been slow to teach the necessary business and entrepreneurial skills that many graduates will need. Now they are catching up.
There is an entrepreneurial journalism class at City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism and it is  taught by longtime BuzzMachine blogger and the school's director of interactive journalism, Jeff Jarvis. A new class is started at Berkeley, Launching an Entrepreneurial Business,  with journalism-school assistant dean Marcia Parker and business school lecturer David Charron co-teaching the class. The Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship is coming up at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
1. Chris Anderson:The Economics of Giving it Away, Mint, 2 February 2009, page 18.
2. Chris Anderson: Journalism jobs will be lost and news media could become smaller in the digital future,
3. Nathan Ketsdever,  Blog post,  "Citizen Journalism and Print Publications Trends for 2009"

Relevant Courses

Entrepreneurial Journalism, City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism,taught by longtime BuzzMachine blogger and the school's director of interactive journalism, Jeff Jarvis.


Weinberger, D. ,  Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder. Holt Paperbacks.
JOURNALISM IN THE DIGITAL AGE: Theory and practice for broadcast, print and online media
John Herbert, Foundation Head of Journalism at Staffordshire University.
Paperback, 349 pages, publication date: NOV-1999, Elsevier


Stanford Digital Journalism Course, Digital Journalism Workspace: Winter Quarter, 2008,

Original knol - Knol number 846

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