I’ve been thinking about Journalism a lot lately. As many are aware, the industry has been in trouble for a few years now. Readership and subscriptions are down at every local newspaper, and increased dependence on advertisements are way up. Many local newspapers have had to shut down or severely decrease their staff. This is not good for the future. Where we get our news is a strong pillar of democracy. We must be informed to be able to make wise decisions about big issues like war and pollution, as well as seemingly insignificant issues like installing a stop sign at the corner.
While advertising is currently seen as the answer to fix journalism and make it profitable – with the likes of New York Times and The Atlantic pushing this forward – the close connection between ‘sponsored content’ and real journalism is unnerving, to say the least. When the same journalist spends the morning on a sponsored piece about how amazing Google Chrome is and the afternoon on a piece about Google and security – it’s hard to imagine unbiased reporting in either case. While this example may sound unlikely – it’s a lot closer to reality than most would believe. It’s clear to me we need to fix this, and individual paid subscriptions doesn’t seem to be the answer (not everyone is like New York Times and can command a monthly fee).
This isn’t an easy problem to solve, and will most likely require multiple solutions to properly fix…I do think something similar to Spotify for Journalism could prove useful. The same way artists were losing their money to illegal downloads in the 2000s, Journalism is losing money and eyes to free content. Although it requires people willing to pay for what they read – I personally would be very receptive to paying a monthly fee that directly pays the journalists of content I read. While this would still require newspapers to report on tough issues vs. popular ones – it does provide an easier method of gaining revenue.