Friday, April 9, 2010

More on making up for lost journalism

I keep coming up from behind on this story, for some reason. Probably because I collect a whole lot of great stuff in GoogleReader, then let days pass without reading it and coming upon it later.

But Steve Outing made a really insightful reply to the same Alan Mutter piece about non-profit journalism that I used as a jump-off point for my last entry (immediately below).

Outing points out that a lot of the "lost capacity" in newsrooms -- calculated at $1.6 billion by Poynter's Rick Edmonds -- isn't exactly irreplaceable accountability journalism but the type of commentary and redundant functions easily found elsewhere in the new journalistic ecosphere:

"Of all that lost for-profit journalism that used to be published by newspapers, lots of it is no longer needed. Newspapers have lost plenty of movie and book reviewers; foreign and Washington, D.C., correspondents; sports reporters who travel across the country to cover every away game; and on and on. I don’t mean to belittle the loss of those jobs, but the Internet has made available plenty of credible replacements.

"Is it necessary that my hometown paper have a professional movie reviewer, when I can read a wide range of professional and movie-goer reviews on my laptop or phone? I’m not the only person who’s stood in front of the multiplex theater deciding what movie to see by checking the reviews and trailers using Flixster on my smartphone. … That the local metro paper no longer has a correspondent in D.C. is lamentable, but there are plenty of replacements just a few clicks or finger-taps away. … Foreign news coverage? I’ve never had such a wide range of sources available to me, for free, no less.

"In other words, plenty of that $1.6 billion in lost newspaper journalism is not going to be replaced; it already has been by other parties.

Those are important, and relevant, things to consider as we talk about what's being lost as newspapers decline. For more read Outing's complete post.

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