Journalists: Where do you add value?

Every day, with everything they do, the key question for journalists and news organizations in these tight – that is, more efficient – times must be: Are you adding value? And if you’re not, why are you doing whatever you’re doing?

Sitting in a hotel room, cruising by CNN the other day, I caught a behind-the-scenes segment that wanted to show us just how cool it is to be a reporter dashing from story to story. It did the opposite for me. I was disturbed at the waste.

The correspondent – I won’t pick on him; it was just his turn to play show monkey – stood in front of the new Mets’ stadium to tell us that there’s controversy about naming it after a sponsor. It was just a stand-up. There was no evidence of reporting as he was standing alone in a parking lot. The knowledge was a commodity. Anybody could have read it. But they wanted to scene and invested a correspondent and crew to get it. Then he dashed to the UN because there was a vote happening. But he didn’t run to report. He ran to the bureau to do another stand-up with another background. Again, what happened in the vote was commodity knowledge. Anybody could have read it.

So there is a reporter not reporting. But, of course, that is hardly unique to CNN. How much of the dwindling, precious journalism resource we have – on national and local TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines – goes to original reporting, to real journalism? How much goes to repetition and production?

Journalism can’t afford repetition and production anymore.

Every minute of a journalist’s time will need to go to adding unique value to the news ecosystem: reporting, curating, organizing. This efficiency is necessitated by the reduction of resources. But it is also a product of the link and search economy: The only way to stand out is to add unique value and quality. My advice in the past has been: If you can’t imagine why someone would link to what you’re doing, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. And: Do what you do best and link to the rest. The link economy is ruthless in judging value.

The question every journalist must ask is: Am I adding value?

Look at a service such as PaidContent. They have a small (though growing) staff and they choose carefully what they do, whether it’s worth it to send someone to a conference, whether they can add reporting to a story that’s already known, how they can curate links to the best of coverage that already exists. They fire their bullets carefully, economically, to contribute maximum unique value. PaidContent doesn’t – and can’t afford to – record stand-ups or rewrite others’ reporting for the sake of rewriting it or waste money on production and design niceties.

That’s the way that journalism will have to be executed in the future: efficiently.

I’ve been wanting to get funding to perform an audit of the journalistic output and value of the entire legacy structure of news in a market. It’s not that the current state of news should be the model for the future but it is where the discussion begins: ‘How do we make sure we’ll maintain this level of reporting?’

Once journalism becomes efficient, I think it can do much better than maintain what we have now. When we cut out all the incredible waste – those standups and rewrites and frills and blather – and when we have an ecosystem that rewards unique value, as the internet does, then I think we could end up with more journalism, more reporting.

Bloggers have had to learn that, too. Just linking to and commenting on others’ reporting won’t get you much attention. Every blogger who does original reporting and tells the world something it doesn’t know but wants to know learns that this is how to get links and audience. Arianna Huffington told Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger in London months ago that she was hiring reporters because their stories get more traffic; it’s enlightened economic self-interest. This is a lesson we teach our journalism students at CUNY, when we have them add reporting to the conversations that are going on online.

Whether you’re a blogger or a new form of news organization, you’re going to have to ask with every move whether it will add value to the news ecosystem. If it doesn’t, you shouldn’t do it.

In the link economy, the value given to original reporting will rise. The ability to waste money on old practices of egotistical journalism will plummet. And what is left standing, I think, is more efficient and valuable reporting.

  • Zahra

    Hi Jeff,

    Interesting post. But I’m confused about PaidContent. I just took a look at their site and can’t see one bit of original reporting on it. Instead, I see “according to VentureBeat,” “according to anonymous sources cited by News.com,” and “Kara Swisher is reporting.” The only direct attribution on the main page right now comes from something a CEO said during an earnings call. Not sure I get how this is different from what you say CNN does.

    Hope all is well.
    Zahra

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      They by all means link to that work and curate the best of it. But they also cover events and news. And they add reporting; it’s often that I’ll read a report on something in media and find PaidContent reporting that and then making the extra call to answer unanswered questions.

    • http://scripting.com/ Dave Winer

      With that definition — where is there any original reporting?

      Only when the sources report themselves on their own work would it be “original.”

      • Del Norvin

        I don’t think that’s what Jeff meant at all – but I’ll let him speak for himself. From where I sit, your point doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny. I’ve read your previous pieces that “everyone will blog” and that sources will supposedly blog. “Hey, Deep Throat will be blogging…etc.” Wishful thinking, perhaps, but not at all accurate. With all due respect, I’m not interested in you, as a “source.” What you write on your blog may have some news value when there is news, but we, the public, should not need to rely on your spin or self-interest. I don’t think the previous CEOs at GM or Bear Stearns would say anything other than that things were hunky-dory at their companies had they blogged in the past. I want someone with the chops, the work ethic and the mission to ferret out the truth with as much context as possible. And that’s why Jeff’s post is so important.

        Sorry Dave but you don’t get it

  • James H

    Snowstorm coverage here in DC is a particularly egregious example of this sort of thing. You always see the two or three anchors sitting comfortable in their warm studios while some poor reporter drew the short straw and has to go stand out in the snow.

    SUE (IN STUDIO): “So, Sam, is it still cold out there?”
    SAM (KNEE-DEEP IN SNOW): “Yes, Sue, it’s still cold. Back to you!”

    You see some occasional reporting in this. Typically it’s an interview with some random person:

    SAM: “So, how are you doing out in this cold weather?”
    RANDOM PERSON: “It’s cold out here!”
    SAM: “Back to you, Sue.”

    I don’t mind stand-ups so much if they follow up on some actual useful reporting. If you went to an accident scene and interviewed the firemen and police officials there, you might as well run your standup while you’re already there. And I suppose it make sense to record a stand-up if you’ve just attended a press conference somewhere.

    But you’re right, they do get ridiculous after a while.

  • Steve- UK

    TV “news” is 70% logistics, 25% showbiz and 5% journalism. And 99% a waste of time.

    • http://frommybottomstep.com Greg Fowler

      A bit harsh. 50% a waste of time maybe. Because I put a high value on real news, even if there’s only 5% of it.

  • http://www.tronline.blogspot.com/ Alastair McKenzie

    or, Steve, as Lord Northcliffe said (and is too often quoted, sorry!)…

    “News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.”

  • http://www.telegraph.co.uk Edward Roussel

    Jeff – Spot on. A few additional thoughts:

    1. “Value” is what readers want, not editors. One reason why so many newspapers have failed is they lost touch with readers. They ignored them or, worse still, they bored them.

    2. News is a service, not a product. That means looking after readers by serving them news-you-can-use: how to re-mortgage your house at a lower cost, what’s the one must-see TV show on this weekend, how do you buy a ticket for the Super Bowl final. Pithy and useful.

    3. The web gives you instant feedback on what your readers want and even what they think – thanks to comments on stories and tracking tools that show you what people are reading. Great feedback. Yet, a former newspaper editor recently told me he was appalled that news judgment could be affected by such data. (Perhaps that’s why he’s a former editor…)

  • Jake Costas

    haha BLOGGERS where do YOU add value? Mainly you stand on the shoulders of the journalists (who actually go and get the news) and then you link to it and make some smarmy judgements.

    • http://scripting.com/ Dave Winer

      What about bloggers who are the sources who have gone direct?

      Read my blog — I hardly ever quote reporters.

      How about that! :-)

      • Richard

        Dave, you’re not a source.

      • http://scripting.com/ Dave Winer

        Richard, yes of course I am a source. I’ve been interviewed hundreds of times by reporters, sometimes on the record, and other times not. That’s what it means to be a source. You’re being argumentative, whoever you are! :-)

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      What a fresh and original thought. Just like a blogger, it sounds.

  • http://www.tyndallreport.com Andrew Tyndall

    When we cut out all the incredible waste – those standups and rewrites and frills and blather…

    Another huge drag on journalists’ time and energies is the public relations industry.

    Public Relations was created as a parasitical institution when the news ecology was one of scarcity: leveraging the monopoly power, credibility, prestige and perceived objectivity of the MainStreamMedia to present its clients in a context that appeared more stringent and trustworthy than its obviously self-serving paid advertising.

    How much time do journalists spend following the publicity-&-promotion ideas pitched to them by PR people? Or feeling obliged to call a flack for a soundbite to round out a story?

    In a commodity ecology of news, public relations can cut out the journalist as middle man and address its audience directly.

    In turn, the journalist can stick to reporting news instead of repackaging publicity. If a PR firm feels that some piece of news reporting has misrepresented its clients, let it post its response at its own site so the journalist, and audience member, can link to it.

    • Andy Freeman

      > Another huge drag on journalists’ time and energies is the public relations industry.

      Huh? The PR industry is not a drag on journalists’ time and energy. Many journalists treat the PR industry as sources and unattributed co-authors, saving them time and energy.

  • http://www.attentionmax.com Max Kalehoff

    To be fair to the correspondent you picked on, television is not necessarily about deep knowledge. It is more about emotion, entertainment — via sight, sound and motion. Indeed, to you and me, the raw knowledge he reported is commodity — crap, even. But often richness and value is about the juxtaposition of familiarity (the CNN “show monkey”) and water cooler chat (Citi stadium). Not for me in your example, but often in others. That’s why television and video is a big business. Maybe it’s time to stop calling it news, then?

  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society robertdfeinman

    TV “news” is not journalism. There is almost no original reporting and what there is appears on the magazine shows like “60 minutes” or Frontline.

    If people don’t read newspapers as much, having a presenter stand in front of a site and relay the gist of the story is serving the needs of the slightly interested. I always imagine CNN and such outlets as being aimed at people in doctor’s waiting rooms or airports or the like. They drift in and out and grab a few factoids.

    Any attempt to provide a detailed account of something which would take 5-10 minutes to unfold would be ineffective anyway. People just don’t attend to the broadcasts that closely or for that long.

    TV has never been the proper medium for in depth reporting. The choices are a talking head reading copy, or running distracting visuals with a voice over. Once you go for the visuals no one hears the spoken commentary anyway. It’s the “hot” vs “cold” media argument all over again.

    • Tex Lovera

      Robert, you beat me to it. TV news has not been about journalism in a long, long time.

      Remember in the movie “Network” (IIRC), after Peter Finch had his on-camera meltdown? And they turned the network news into an entertainment show, complete with a “psychic”? Lots of people laughed at that.

      But what do you see now every morning? Not to mention noon and night?

      Local affiliates are even worse – they try the same formulas, but with even less “talented” reporters.

      It’s why I don’t watch the stuff anymore – they insult my intelligence. Same for the local paper – why should I pay for ignorant reporting loaded with an axe-to-grind bias?

  • Dave Goddard

    This is absolute nonsense. Journalism isn’t something that can be measured just by “cost” or “efficiency”; it has a function of audit to perform in democratic societies and a duty to challenge in non-democratic ones. Pick up any serious newspaper or look at any serious TV news programme and you will find examples of this. It’s just plain lazy “journalism” to report on something you viewed in a hotel room.

    This is the sort of thinking that has led to the UK’s obsession with target-driven policies that lead to, for instance, police forces ignoring rape accusations to chase traffic offenders – they too ask “am I adding value”.

    I do not profess to have followed your work too closely but you do strike me as someone who couldn’t make it in this business, and have just taken to throwing your toys at those who could.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Well, Dave, whether I saw it in a hotel room or in a mansion or in an office is neither here nor there: the CNN still wasted its resources on someone doing no original reporting. Seems pretty fucking simple to me.

    • http://www.truenorth.tv Sandy Johnston

      Hi Dave,

      I just wanted to get in touch as I’m a researcher for a TV Production company, we’re currently making a programme on the case of Trevor Hardy – a serial killer from Manchester in the 1970”s, who’s story I believe you covered for the MEN.

      I’d be very interested in speaking to you if possible? My contact e-mail is sjohnston@truenorth.tv or phone: 0113 394 5489

      Many thanks

      Sandy

  • http://www.bakersfieldobserved.com Richard Beene

    Jeff: this is a terrific post. Amid all the chaos of the layoffs etc… it occurred to me that a whole class of working “journalists” is going away forever. Every newsroom in America had folks like this: certainly capable, committed but not impact players and not folks who could adapt to a changing landscape. Those jobs are gone forever and we need to redefine what the role of a journalist will be. As you said, curators and doing what you do best (hopefully with impact) and linking to the rest. Going through the motions isn’t good enough anymore.

  • http://www.tyndallreport.com Andrew Tyndall

    Feinman —

    Your insistence that “original reporting” has to be in a long form of five to ten minutes is too rigorous.

    When Jarvis recommends that journalists spend less time on commodity news, he does not insist that journalism should abandon commodity topics altogether. All he is saying is that if the major news of the day is covered by the major national news organizations, then local news and specialist media can link to them and get on with what they do best rather than duplicate that effort.

    When you say “the choices are a talking head reading copy, or running distracting visuals with a voice over,” you are indeed describing the superficial format of choice for all the cable news channels, not just CNN.

    You might want to return to their more-heavily-watched, more-longstanding rivals, the network nightly newscasts. There you will still see the two-minute produced packages on the major news of the day, the staple of commodity video journalism. This is not the “in depth reporting” that you insist on; neither does it need to be.

    Instead these packages represent commodity video journalism at its finest — and, nowadays, not only broadcast but eminently linkable as well — providing the basic Five Ws of the ten-or-so most newsworthy developments of the day. A basic nuts-&-bolts newscast is a hard thing to find on the cable news channels.

    • http://robertdfeinman.com/society robertdfeinman

      I know you are in the business, so you have a different view of things, but…

      I stopped watching TV news after the era of Huntley and Brinkley, so I can’t really comment on the “quality” of the modern product.

      One thing is clear, one hardly ever hears these programs cited as a source of new information. As I said there is a role for repeating stories that have appeared elsewhere during the day for those who prefer to get their stories in this format, but that’s not reporting.

      Stories which can’t be squeezed into two minutes, or that can’t be combined with film clips or graphics, or those which upset the status quo don’t even get covered.

      The press (not just broadcast) has been rightly criticized for missing the biggest stories of the past few decades. These include the brewing economic meltdown, the run up to the Iraq invasion and now the torture scandals.

      In each of these cases there was plenty of material being dredged up by fringe media, such as the weekly opinion magazines and the foreign press, but it was ignored.

      The big three (four?) don’t have foreign news bureaus, don’t have a single reporter dedicated to covering labor and never send investigators into local statehouses to see what kind of mischief is being committed on a local level. Instead they circle a missing child’s home with satellite relay trucks and report on the most trivial events.

      How you can even attempt to defend this sorry excuse for news is beyond me.

      • http://www.tyndallreport.com Andrew Tyndall

        Feinman, five brief points–

        1.Commodity journalism: your rule that “reporting” is defined as being a source for “new information” and journalism that explains information that has already been established is merely “repeating” is too strict. Just because Jarvis says that it is not everybody’s job to do commodity journalism, the corollary is not that nobody should.

        2.Format: you note that the two-minute video format is ill-equipped for some subject matter. Fair enough. But it is well-equipped for other subject matter. In my opinion, these packages are superior to the reporter’s stand-up or the voiceover B-roll, taking advantage of journalistic elements such as graphics, soundbites, photomontage — and time for considered writing and copyediting. Furthermore, judging from YouTube, the two-minute package appears to be a favorite format for online video viewing, not just broadcast.

        3.The Status Quo: complaining that the MainStreamMedia do not upset the status quo is like complaining that bacon is not kosher. Of course they do not upset the status quo, but what made you imagine that they would? One watches the network nightly news precisely to find out what the priorities, options and disputes are that are preoccupying the powers that be. To the extent that their agenda changes, we can see how the status quo is adjusting to accommodate objective circumstances and political pressures

        4.Missing Big Stories: following the precept of do what you do best, link to the rest, there is no reason that the commodity journalism of the network nightly newscasts cannot be integrated with the enterprise journalism you cited from fringe media, weekly opinion magazines and the foreign press. Your criticism that such reporting has been “ignored” is an exaggeration but you point is well made. The MainStreamMedia should be linking much more energetically to their enterprise colleagues. The same applies to journalism you mentioned on the labor beat or emanating from local statehouses.

        5.Trivia: given that, as you said, you cannot really comment on the quality of the modern product since you do not watch it, it is understandable that you have the mistaken impression that nightly news reporting consists of circling “a missing child’s home with satellite relay trucks” and reporting on “the most trivial events.” That criticism rang true in the mid-90s when these newscasts became embroiled in such foolishness as the Kerrigan-Harding feud and the OJ Simpson trial. They no longer make such mistakes. At present, their worst error in deviating from a hard news agenda consists of pandering to their demographic base, concentrating too much on the elderly-friendly medical beat. Yet even the health beat has gone into decline recently. Politics and economics dominate their agenda right now.

  • http://www.twitter.com/thedailycity Mark Baratelli

    I’m a small-town arts & culture blogger and I am adopting your quote below as my mantra.

    “Do what you do best and link to the rest.”

    That one piece of advice is gold! Thank you.

    • http://www.granitegeek.org D Brooks

      You forgot “but don’t expect to be paid for it”

      So far, that’s the one certainty in New Media

      • http://www.thedailycity.com Mark Baratelli

        Five months later, D Brooks, you have to eat your words: I got my first paid advertiser. Marriott Hotels!

  • http://themediamanager.com Kirk LaPointe

    I’ve posted on your post and added a couple of comments.
    http://www.themediamanager.com/3/post/2009/04/jeff-jarvis-journalists-need-to-add-value.html

    I don’t think we should be surprised that, in challenging conditions, people revert to what worked in the past. Not that it’s ideal, but it’s not surprising. Jeff has a good wake-up call.

    As for the issue of inefficiency, I’ve done several analyses of newsrooms over the years and looked at the percentage of content that is of a newsroom’s own initiation — that is, with no current event steering it or staged news event driving it. The percentage is very tiny in newsrooms large and small.

    I think you’d find that almost every newsroom find itself occupied by staged events and those events feels it must attend. The central tension is a newsroom’s sense of responsibility to put matters on the record in its own voice, even when there are other voices. Some of that flows from a defensive culture, but some also flows from a belief that one’s newsroom can do a better job in covering an event for an audience — a competitive culture, if you will.

    My hunch is that Jeff’s right: A lot of that is going to be changing.

  • http://www.daylife.com John Zipps

    “I’ve been wanting to get funding to perform an audit of the journalistic output and value of the entire legacy structure of news in a market.”

    I’d work on that one for free.

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  • http://ggatincritped.blogspot.com ggatin

    Journalism and what gets printed in the newspapers are two radically different things. Most of the time what hits the front page is what supports the agenda of the newspaper corporate elite. Linda McQuaig has some interesting observations of what newspapers could do if they really wanted to use news to sell newspapers. Report things that are NEWS! http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/rabble-news/~3/gXDADXHqe3s/linda-mcquaig-whats-wrong-our-newspapers

  • http://www.newsfromsyria.com Sasa

    Please don’t judge an entire profession by the lowest common denominator (a rolling news channel). News channels HAVE to fill airtime in colourful ways. Yes, they could read all of their stories off agency from the studio. But sending a reporter (or in this case, more like a presenter – someone who’s bascially just ‘presenting’ agency copy) somewhere with a relevant background is no different to using a photo to illustrate a newspaper article.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      It’s a lot different. It took 3-4 people to do this and there was NO original reporting, no value added. Journalists should be reporting, not reading.

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  • Fraser

    I saw that segment of BackStory. They even tried to play a quick game of baseball in the parking lot before dashing off to the UN!!

  • http://ryantate.com Ryan Tate

    I applaud (and share) your taste for original reporting Jeff, but do you honestly think CNN would go to all the trouble of these time consuming stand ups if it didn’t have an impact on _some_ other viewers?

    I guarantee you the TV people have metered the Nielsen impact of this, and it’s there.

    As a writer I wish stories didn’t live and die by the quality of the picture that runs with them, or the layout, but they often (not always) very much _do_, even in the New York Times, I guarantee you. I wish sources cared as much about the facts they supplied as how they look in their photo, but you would be surprised at how often they care vastly more about the latter.

    Sure, you’re making a broader point, about how you have to go above and beyond as a writer.

    But your stand-ups example shows you personally don’t always see the value being addded. Same with “Just linking and commenting” — what a hugely misguided trivialization!

    That’s like me calling a New York Post copy editor “just a headline writer.” Those headlines can be total art!

    It’s like saying Stewart is “just commenting” on other people’s work. Along with some columnists and editorial writers, he brings amazingly piercing analysis to any number of debates, so pleasantly and efficiently transmitted it positively sparkles.

    You say you want efficiency in journalism. Well, so do many, many shareholders and managers and editors, everywhere. But it’s incredibly hard to figure out what that means. If you _have_ figured something crucial out, you haven’t added enough value to this post to communicate it.

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  • http://mediacafe.blogspot.com/ Jeff Mignon

    “The question every journalist must ask is: Am I adding value?”… I have being saying this sentence for so long in the different newsrooms that we have being helping. What I realized is that journalists think that news has an intrinsic value. So whatever they say or write has value. But news has no intrinsic value. The customer decides if a news has value or not. And the value is different for all of us. I love this sentence from Warren Buffet : “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

    Robert Picard (Director, Media Management and Transformation Centre Jönköping International Business School Jönköping, Sweden) has done an amazing job around value for news and information. I do recommend to read his work: Journalism, Value Creation and the Future of News Organizations (Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy).

    In it, he says: “It is important to understand that the content provided by journalism is not valued for itself by consumers, but that its value emanates from its utility as a mechanism to achieve states and things outside the news and information itself.”

    If someone wants this report and can’t find it online, just send me an email: jfm (at) mignon-media (dot) com

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  • Ehab

    Jeff,

    After browsing your site many times in the past year, this is the first article where I understand everything you said.

    Maybe because I’m young, in an accounting masters program, with very little journalism vocab.

    So, thank you.

    -Ehab

  • Mark Coddington

    While I think this is an incredibly valuable principle (as a newspaper reporter, I’ve tried to let it guide my reporting as much as possible), I wonder about its applicability on the local level. Yes, on national stories like the ones you mentioned, the news is “commodity knowledge” because of the glut of news sources who have covered those stories.

    But in a smaller local news ecosystem like the one I work in (central Nebraska), that “commodity knowledge” assumption doesn’t hold true. It assumes that readers/viewers are news consumers voracious enough to find a story as soon as it’s reported, no matter where. In reality, that’s not the way people are. They have lives; they’re way too busy to monitor each competing local news source to spot the first iteration of a news story. Many people first find out about a story from a TV report that may be a copy of a copy of the original newspaper article. That’s shoddy journalism, to be sure, and far from the best use of the station’s limited resources. But it’s not entirely worthless in a local news ecosystem.

    That said, we could do with a lot less of this type of “journalism” on the local and national levels. We certainly need to be focusing on added value; my definition of value is simply a bit broader than Jarvis’.

    • Guy Lucas

      On the local level the corollary is how much time a reporter is spending on things almost no one will read. Is he writing a 25-inch, blow-by-blow account of a city council meeting where nothing was actually decided? Is she writing a long police beat account filled with cop jargon such as “fled on foot” rather than translating everything into English and boiling it down into conversational language? Or writing yet another story on a first court appearance or arraignment? These are the “value added” elements on the local level. Filter out what matters and what’s not routine, make things understandable. EXPLAIN. Answer the question, “Why should I care?” If you can’t answer that, you probably shouldn’t waste your time writing about whatever it is.

  • Bob

    Blogger/Academic, do you add value?

    • jake costas

      No bloggers don’t -they just add ego. They let reporters do the research and editors do the fact checking then the bloggers weigh in with their opinions.

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  • http://www.ktvz.com Barney Lerten

    Thought-provoking post, and comments as well.

    There are some on-the-ground realities to face – on days with a large staff of reporters, we repeat little if any national news available in the network news that follows, from other sources, etc.

    But these are tough times in the news biz (wow, there’s news) – so with the same amount of time to fill, inevitably more of it will be the regional and national/world news that we’d all rather have pushed out by more fresh local reporting.

    Doing more with less is a phrase of the times, and we all know what it really leads to – less. Better to focus on the technology and other elements that will get us to the point of a true Net/TV merger, so if the worthwhile local news is 10 minutes worth one night and 45 the next, the advertisers still get value and reporters can still put food on the table.

  • http://www.suzanneyada.com Suzanne

    “I’ve been wanting to get funding to perform an audit of the journalistic output and value of the entire legacy structure of news in a market.”

    A few years ago Grade The News audited Bay Area media with a detailed report card, but funding lapsed in 2007, just before the industry’s complete mental breakdown. It needs to be revived. http://gradethenews.org/

    (Disclosure: I’m a student at San Jose State where the work was done.)

  • http://www.digidave.org David Cohn

    I came to a similar conclusion myself recently thinking about the types of reporting I want to focus on with Spot.Us.

    See the second section of this blog post: http://blog.spot.us/2009/04/06/lessons-learned-in-types-and-forms-of-journalism/

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  • David Owens

    Uncle Jeff, what planet do you live on? You keep repeating the word journalist, like we were back in the days of Nixon/watergate.

    “journalism” ended many years ago. Now, just left wing hacks with agendas. A BA in journalism is about as worthless as one in black studies or french poets.
    I have total contempt for newspaper reporters and look forward to all of them flipping burgers.

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  • http://socialbutterflymedia.me Joanna

    I agree w/you that as journalists/reporters/bloggers/citizen journalists–whatever we are — the question is what are we contributing?
    Other than making loud statements or judgments and trying to pass them off as journalism (whether traditional or new media), do you have anything to say that isn’t regurgatated or recycled spin?!?! And a comment to the no journalists left response, there are plenty of hardworking newspaper reporters that have had the training, mentoring, education — and most of all dedication to stay committed to their craft yet receive no spotlight like those on CNN or FOX. There has always been a big difference between print and broadcast and I wonder what will unfold with the Web now… socialbutterflymedia.me

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  • Rob Levine

    >>>Interesting post. But I’m confused about PaidContent. I just took a look at their site and can’t see one bit of original reporting on it. Instead, I see “according to VentureBeat,” “according to anonymous sources cited by News.com,” and “Kara Swisher is reporting.” The only direct attribution on the main page right now comes from something a CEO said during an earnings call. Not sure I get how this is different from what you say CNN does.

    Paidcontent is owned by the Guardian, that’s why it’s different. Follow the money, to quote the old media, follow the money.

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  • Stan Hogan

    As usual, Jarvis employs a tired variant of his same-same provocation through bloviation. Framing his latest flame around the intermingling of journalism/journalists with some typically must-be-visual TV report is especially irritating.

    He then segues into an indictment of all the hard-working, dedicated journalists who got into those professions leading with their ideals rather than financial motives. Those people, who constitute the majority, have always focused on value, the value being their contribution to the betterment of society.

    Sometimes that value comes in the form of investigative pieces that take weeks or months to compile while their daily contribution to the cause is nil. Tighter newsrooms have already sacrificed much of this “time-wasting” journalism that time and again changed the world for the better.

    Yes, more hard-core local news is a winning formula, for print. The national and world report have been prostituted to the must-feed-me Web.

    I think what he’s really getting at, and what he’s always getting at, is adapting journalism to a Web or instant news culture. Well, if he goes there, the value formula is blown up. Value of Web news products is minimal, in a bottom-line way. Nobody has figured out how to make top-notch Web journalism pay the bills. Scavenging legitimate news Web sites has proven lucrative for some but they’re killing their master in the process.

    Yes, more with less, Jarvis. You should be a corporate cheerleader. Oops, I forgot you already are.

    In summary: Jarvis has nothing. Again.

  • Andy Freeman

    > He then segues into an indictment of all the hard-working, dedicated journalists who got into those professions leading with their ideals rather than financial motives. Those people, who constitute the majority, have always focused on value, the value being their contribution to the betterment of society.

    That’s nice, but society doesn’t much value their “ideals”.

    Actually, it’s not “nice”, it’s wrong in the sense that Jarvis didn’t “seque into an indictment”. He pointed out that they’re not going to make any money. If, as Hogan says, they’re not in it for the money, that shouldn’t be a problem….

    > Tighter newsrooms have already sacrificed much of this “time-wasting” journalism that time and again changed the world for the better.

    “time and again” suggests that such activities are far more common than they actually are. In reality, they’re quite rare. (Not to mention that they often turn out to be overrated, Watergate anyone?) I happen to agree that they’re valuable, but since newsrooms don’t do much do them, they’re no reason to keep newsrooms alive.

    good, unique, valuable to the reader is what pays. Does Hogan really believe that folks should pay for something else? Is he going to argue that the reader doesn’t know what’s valuable? Does he think that me-toos “should” be paid more?

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  • http://www.allstartradingpins.com Trading Pins

    I have to say that the value of journalism is really what the public demands. Some say that “junk” journalism is media such as TMZ, etc…but that type is fueled by public demand, therefore value journalism can only be measured by the demand needs of the public in general.

    • http://pinsfast.com Pins Fast

      Right, but then who wants to read some spammy crap like this :
      http://baseballtradpin16.mixxt.com/networks/wiki/index.index

      YOU published that Trading Pins. You paid some Chinese person to write a half english article to boost your search engine rankings, but how is that customer demand? The internet is ful of crap like this and personally I am offended. How or why you would receive any reward for it is beyond my level of comprehension, since I tend to overestimate the ability of search engines to judge REAL content from FAKE.

      However fke your inbound link articles are, the constant links to “trading pins” make you number one in the search engine ranking. Congrats.

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  • http://puritea.weebly.com/ Puritea

    [...] mixed between one another only to paint an instructive picture. Original posts: Mindy McAdams and Jeff Jarvis. First, McAdams: (L)et’s consider the story. Do you in fact have a story? It seems to me that a [...]

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