We’ve covered on several occasions the notion that the future of mainstream media is local media – that the network effect of the web removes the need of news collecting organizations or editorial teams. On Publishing 2.0 Scott Karp explores the theme further by wondering if newspapers should become local blog networks.
Maybe what newspapers should become in the digital media era is a network of local bloggers — maybe there are three tiers of journalists at these blog network “newspapers”:
- Full-time reporters and editors, who ensure breadth of coverage, quality and standards, and public mission
- Paid freelancers who write on a regular basis, but not full-time — these can be stay-at-home parents looking for supplemental income, retirees looking for extra income or to keep busy, college students, etc.
- “Witness” reporters (avoiding “citizen journalist” on purpose), who contribute to the reporting effort when they witness news in some form
Many newspapers are closer to this model than they may realize, but there a few radical steps required:
- Use more freelancers who can post to blogs part-time
- Create a platform for anyone to report news — but on the established blogs, not in some big sloshing vat of random submissions — if someone wants to contribute regularly, give them their own blog, a focus, and (just enough) structure
- And stop publishing in print.
Which sounds like a promising direction. The problem that we see is that journalists can’t blog. Nor do the majority want to. We’re kind of reminded of all those industries where the workforce were replaced by fewer more technically-skilled staff with better machines to do the job…
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