Finding A Solution.

This week’s readings, from New York Magazine, Mindy McAdams, and chapters 3 and 4 of our textbook, included a really interesting batch of ideas. Both articles explored the new roles news media needs to take on during a time of drastic changes in the way people seek out the news.

In Mindy McAdams’ article, “The Survival of Journalism: 10 Simple Facts,” she makes the point that there are certain mental roadblocks preventing journalists from moving past the current newspaper model, and figuring out how to move on and what to do next, in terms of finding ways to produce the revenue needed to support good journalism as the news shifts to an internet-based format.

She says, “we can’t pretend that the work will get done for free. It will not,” but also acknowledges that “the business model to sustain journalism in the 21st century has not been seen yet.”

I don’t think that these are necessarily points to move on from, because they are pretty serious issues that all of us will be faced with that don’t have real answers yet. To be honest, I thought that one of the commenters on her post phrased it best when she said, “I actually think there are still subscription models to be worked out- they just need to be radically reinvented.”

The New York Times might find a way to make that work. In her New York Magazine article, “The New Journalism: Goosing The Gray Lady,” Emily Nussbaum focused on some of the changes happening over at the New York Times, specifically the team of men responsible for transforming the Times’ website into a more useful, interactive site than it had ever been before. As Nussbaum says, the Times website receives “20 million unique visitors per month,” whereas the daily print edition has a “readership of 2.8 million.” Despite the lack of income its website provides for the time being, the Times is still trying to focus on ways to keep its online readership involved and interested.

The Times chose to re-vamp their website at a pivotal time. As Nussbaum said, “this past year has been catastrophic for the New York Times…so dire had the situation become, observers began to entertain thoughts about whether the enterprise might dissolve entirely.”

It is promising, then, that amidst a somewhat turbulent time, the Times has decided to focus more effort on keeping readers hooked through its website, by creating features like the “Word Train” and staying relevant with their “Casualties of War” page. Even though it is true that a real sustainable business model hasn’t been formed yet, it seems that the Times is still moving forward, and hoping the ‘answer’ becomes clear later. Aron Pilhofer, one of the journalists responsible for some of the Times’ big changes, said that the role that the Times can play involves exciting and engaging online readers so much that they might want to pay for it.

I guess I’m still snagged on Mindy McAdams’ hurdles. It’s hard to see what the future holds for print journalism, and how newspapers will find a way to make money online. However, it’s nice to know that there is hope out there, and that papers like the Times are trying to find ways to adapt, despite their lack of a concrete answer.

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September 13, 2009. Uncategorized.

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