Discussion on the Death of “Real Journalism” Filled with Kool Aid

Posted on January 25, 2008
Filed Under Web 2.0 Kool Aid |

I thought that the geniuses at Davos were supposed to be saving the world, but apparently this includes finding a way to “save” journalism. If you are one of the few people who is reading the newspaper instead of the blogosphere, you never hear the news: “real journalism” is dying and Craigslist and blogs like TechCrunch are to blame.

I think this entire discussion is quite amusing. As Mark Cuban has pointed out, “Contrary to popular belief, newspapers aren’t dying. Newspapers are making tons of money.” Are newspapers and traditional news outlets finding that the Internet is impacting them? Absolutely. But when you look at the total amount of revenue being generated and the recent acquisitions in the space, I think it’s clear that the industry is still more-than-viable. Obviously, newspapers and traditional media outlets should not ignore the challenges they’re facing and will need to adapt. Many are, albeit slowly; big changes never get done overnight with major corporations.

As I’ve pointed out before, citizen journalism has a long way to go before it’s a viable contender to take over the fourth branch. I won’t get into a debate on whether the government should subsidize journalism at this time because I think it’s moot.

What I do find interesting is the comments from Web 2.0 Kool Aid drinkers on this subject:

January 24th, 2008 at 7:12 am

—When the business model of “real journalism” fails, what should society do in response?—

I don’t know what you mean by “society”….but individuals are already declaring with their wallets that resources used by print journalism are no longer desired and should be sold off and used somewhere else.

I see no reason why anyone would want to waste resources and finance a losing venture unless they’re willing to risk their own capital….Government risks other people’s money, so that shouldn’t even be an option.

Obviously people have found much more value in “true” free market journalism - on the Internet.

What “true” free market journalism is this? You mean all of the blog posts that regurgitate and/or spin news from traditional media outlets? The vast majority of bloggers rely on traditional media outlets to feed them news.

January 24th, 2008 at 8:02 am

Hell no the government shouldn’t step in. Journalism/Newspapers are just the beginning. Next is television. After that its corporate America. Its a pattern that is being caused by the next industrial revolution. The knowledge worker has finally figured out they don’t need a corporation to earn money. The rise of the knowledge worker is just beginning. You also have to factor in the advancement of technology, such as the ability to create applications in days, rapid/mass production of parts (mfg.com) from your house, etc…

They say gen y, gen x, and gen (n) are lazy and just want to be famous. No they just don’t want to work for a corporation. Corporations are nothing more than a group of resources working together to produce an output. Why give your energy (resource) to a company who will profit off you when you can do it yourself and make just as much if not more money, set your own hours, and work from where ever whenever?

So back to the topic. If the government steps in the US is going to be in a world of hurt, because our economy will be screwed more than it currently is. This will be beginning of the end (Rome) when we have to uphold something that cannot support itself. Whatever happened to the phrase let the market decide?

Lets put all the old boys out of business….keep it up everyone!

Jason clearly needs to return to First Life. If he hasn’t noticed, Corporate America has only gotten stronger and more entrenched over the past decade. Most Americans still rely on employment from corporations to pay the bills and this isn’t going to change. Anybody who thinks that the average “knowledge worker” can “earn more money, set [their] own hours, and work from where ever whenever” is, for lack of a better word, an idiot. The United States is not, and will never become, a freelancer economy. Amongst the people I know, freelancers are far from being the wealthiest. Of course, Jason doesn’t know that freelancing isn’t the path to riches. his website, he’s a “marketer, programmer, designer, and inventor.” Translation: he’ll do whatever you want if you just hire him for a gig. Please?

January 24th, 2008 at 8:05 am

The short version:

Decentralization of media, wealth, etc… It is scaring the crap out of them.

Jason’s scattered mind forces him to return with this nugget of insight. Of course, if Jason hadn’t been relying on Duncan Riley for his information, he would have known that the world has actually seen a consolidation of wealth in recent times. Statistics show that the rich are getting richer and that the gap between the rich and the poor is only getting wider. But who really cares about facts?

Fortunately, there are still a few sane people who appear able to post comments on TechCrunch:

Dheeraj Sultanian
January 24th, 2008 at 7:31 am

Broken business model because of a few down years? Are you serious Mike? This is the top story here today. You yourself said journalism is dead, well let me step in and fill in the gaps in your reporting:

1. Sam Zell just led a group of investors to buy Tribune for $8 Billion.
2. NYT, WPO, and other papers are cash cow businesses that may not be growing, but are certainly not on the cusp of failure.
3. News corp just bought Dow Jones for the WSJ - another NEWSPAPER
3. News”paper” is still read by the large number of non web 2.0 kool-aid sipping tech shut-ins
4. No blog can replace the Sunday paper - Come on!

When you have smart media people buying newspapers left and right, does this signal the end of the industry or just a shakeout and rebirth? As the founder of techcrunch and surviver of web 1.0, the answer should be very clear.

Humble Pie
January 24th, 2008 at 8:02 am

I have to agree (with reservation) with Shane @ #2. And Mike, there have been numerous conflicts of interest within traditional journalism in the past as well — major corporate sponsors have sometimes exerted far too much influence, sometimes at the expense of journalistic integrity; some news outlets report all stories from the political perspective of the company’s executive(s) (i.e. Murdoch’s FOX News).

Reservation: It really depends on execution, and equally brave/committed management teams — the BBC serves as an excellent model in this.

And to Jon @ #4 — while, in principal, I laud the ideals of citizen journalism…it suffers from the same ills as Digg: “The illusion is that Digg is a system typically referred to as ‘direct democracy.’ As such, denizens of that democratic environment want a system they can count on to put across their agenda, especially the long time users of Digg. They’ve formed the online equivalent of coalition governments with their sizable friends list, so when they post something to the site, they can reasonably expect it to make front page if it is of a certain quality.

This is one of the major components the new algorithm looks to combat, as well as another problem involved in direct democracy: self-interest.” — quoted from Mark Hopkins, at Mashable ( http://mashable.com/2008/01/23/digg-revolt-again/ )

Now, ask yourself:

1. How many of the top blogs reported the trouble in Kenya?

2. How many actually conduct original investigative journalism to expose misconduct and questionable actions in the VC, Tech, or whatever professions/markets/etc. that encompass their spheres of influence?

Now compare those results with:
– How many simply echo what appears in the NYT, CNN, or some other established “real journalism” outlet.

Heck, Jon, you have two serious grammatical errors in a total of 4 lines… Hardly a hallmark of bigger and better things to come for the world…

Bobby Dang
January 24th, 2008 at 8:36 am

I’m still in University, so I’m a bit ignorant when it comes to commerce, but how can Mr. Arrington conclude the failure of print journalism as a business model based on near term trends of its stock price? Moreover, he used the NYT as a paradigmn case. It seems like a slippery slope argument sprinkled with a generalization based on an insufficient sample size.

If anything, the decline in stock price will force the dailies to re-examine how they package and distribute their content.

It’s my opinion that what is occuring is a divergence of content from its traditional medium. The medium is changing but the content is still valuable. Once the dailies figure out the best and optimal new medium (kindle, e-paper, mobile devices + wifi bill boards) to distribute the content, they will be viable. The bigger question is: what do we mean by ‘print’?–printed text on paper; or digital print displayed on LCD screens.

And finally, Craig Newmark (apparently) chimed in to respond, in part, to Michael Arrington’s claim that newspapers are “getting their lunch eaten on the revenue end by Craigslist”:

Craig Newmark
January 24th, 2008 at 8:43 am

Just a clarification regarding craigslist:

– we’re a for profit corporation, have never claimed or implied we’re a nonprofit.
However, we act as a community service, hence, the site is almost completely free.

– fact checking is good; while we have an effect on newspaper revenues, it’s minor. Most of the chatter just reinforces the urban myth otherwise.


Please Craig, do not spike the Web 2.0 Kool Aid. Do not take from the Kool Aid drinkers the illusions that satiate their thirst. It’s all they have.

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8 Responses to “Discussion on the Death of “Real Journalism” Filled with Kool Aid”

  1. on January 25th, 2008 10:25 am

    I am sorry, but I don’t think I ever mentioned freelance in any of my comments on TechCrunch. Or did someone assume what they shouldn’t have? If journalists would get with it and start a blog about around a subject of their expertise bringing their readers along with them they might actually be able to make more money. Stop just writing articles and become thought leaders in your area of expertise.

    I am not sure why your so sore about the article on TechCrunch. Maybe because you are struggling with the truth behind the article? Maybe you were let go recently? I am not trying to be hostile here, but if everything is ok then why the anger in your tone? My comments weren’t about taking down journalist, but taking down the centralized old boy networks that dominated business, government, etc…

    Further, if you can’t see decentralization happening around you then you have no business being in business. Have you not noticed that a room full of 20’s now have the ability to take down an industry (TV, Radio, Newspapers, etc)? Here are a few examples. Have you not heard of Skype, Joost, Prosper, Craiglist, Pirate Bay, GameCock, I can go on? Those who see this pattern now will make great gains and those who don’t well…. I won’t get into it here, but we will soon see this centralized corporate run government become decentralized and less focused on big business. I am not sure Americans are ready in 2008, but possibly 2012.

    As far as the personnel attack on me? Do you know anything about me? Why the hostility? Are you a one of the old boys? If so then I can understand why you would be upset, which goes to prove my point. They are scared, which is why they are all asking for the government to bail them out. They are seeing their industry crumble under their feet.

    As far as my experience and my career goes. Some of us are intelligent enough to succeed in any position. Some of us have been given the opportunity to work in several departments in order to learn every aspect of a business. Those that have not taken that opportunity or have not been given that opportunity are the ones that freak out when their careers come to end because the industry is vanishing, the technology they are using is going away, or they are arrogant and think people can’t live without them or their skill set. Does any of this sound familiar?

  2. Journalism: of sell-outs and hand-outs - - mathewingram.com/work on January 25th, 2008 10:42 am

    […] — and I emphasize the term *paper* — business might be having a rough time, although plenty of people have pointed out that Sam Zell and Rupert Murdoch seem to see the newspaper business as pretty […]

  3. Journalism: of sell-outs and hand-outs - - mathewingram.com/media on January 25th, 2008 10:43 am

    […] — and I emphasize the term *paper* — business might be having a rough time, although plenty of people have pointed out that Sam Zell and Rupert Murdoch seem to see the newspaper business as pretty […]

  4. on January 25th, 2008 10:55 am

    Since you like these short scattered thought posts, here is another.

    Who the heck is Duncan Riley? How can everyone not see the pattern happening?

    I would write more, but after reading your “about” I see controversy is your thing. So you can read the rest on my blog.

    Or will you remove this comment?

  5. on January 25th, 2008 11:20 am

    […] You can catch up on the posts here and here. […]

  6. Matt A.* on January 25th, 2008 11:40 am

    Thank you for your contrarian point of views, Drama. They are very refreshing and valuable to me.

  7. Drama 2.0 on January 25th, 2008 12:03 pm

    You’re hilarious Jason. If Michael Arrington was ever looking for a replacement for Duncan Riley, you would probably be candidate numero uno.

    “If journalists would get with it and start a blog about around a subject of their expertise bringing their readers along with them they might actually be able to make more money.”

    You do realize that most bloggers do not make a whole lot of money? And you do realize that most journalists see journalism as profession? They get paid for reporting the news and they have the opportunity to do a good job at it because they have access to significant resources. There’s a reason that journalists can go halfway around the world to cover a story and the vast majority of bloggers can’t. Not everybody wants to be an “entrepreneur” running their own show and that’s okay.

    “Further, if you can’t see decentralization happening around you then you have no business being in business.”

    I really hate pissing matches, but if you did a little bit of research about “Drama 2.0″, I think you’d see the stupidity in this comment.

    “Have you not noticed that a room full of 20’s now have the ability to take down an industry (TV, Radio, Newspapers, etc)?”

    I just turned on the TV. The networks still seem to be broadcasting. Found an old radio and turned that on. The airwaves are still filled with the sound of music. Newspaper was delivered this morning.

    I think you have a warped, small-perspective, simplistic black-and-white view of reality but let’s make this simple: name one 20-something who has “taken down” an industry. I think you’re going to have a hard time doing it because the truth of the matter is that these industries are still making money. Perhaps not as much as they did before, but you’ll also notice that they’re shifting and adapting to the Internet:

    Newspaper Web sites draw record viewers

    To use one of Matthew Ingram’s comments from the pingback above, “just because some newspapers aren’t making 30-per-cent returns on invested capital” doesn’t mean that they’re dead.

    “we will soon see this centralized corporate run government become decentralized and less focused on big business. I am not sure Americans are ready in 2008, but possibly 2012.”

    You need to add “comedian” to your list of careers. If you haven’t noticed, big business is only becoming more entrenched in America. Maybe this is not what we want, but it’s happening.

    “As far as my experience and my career goes. Some of us are intelligent enough to succeed in any position.”

    Okay. You list yourself as a marketer, programmer, designer, and inventor. Tell me what you’ve marketed, programmed, designed and invented. There’s no information about your successes on Google and I can’t find any patents that you hold or have filed for via the USPTO. Fill me in. And pray tell, who pays you for these things? Do you market, program, design and invent things for your own business or are you marketing, programming, designing and inventing for somebody else?

  8. Duncan Riley: I Think We Found Your Brother from Another Mother : The Drama 2.0 Show on January 25th, 2008 12:52 pm

    […] one of the TechCrunch commenters whose asinine comments were featured in my post about the death of “real journalism” fell in love with The Drama 2.0 Show and has […]

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