Paul Bradshaw, an academic journalist blogger, posted on his Online Journalism Blog (OJB) a post entitled ‘How the web changed the economics of news‘ in 2009. In this, he detailed 12 changes news organisations needed to consider in order to cope with the ‘online revolution’ of journalism. While Bradshaw (2009) makes some very good and interesting points, there is further reconsideration needed in points 4, 6 and 9.
In point number four, Bradshaw (2009) claims that technology has reduced the cost of ‘newsgathering, production and distribution’, something which is quite difficult to believe. If the cost of these three things are now virtually nil, then why is the newspaper industry still declining? Quality journalism is still needed as people won’t pay for churnalism and PR, so therefore it figures that newsgathering and production are still quite costly for news organisations.
Point number six is an interesting one; that certain types of journalism have been devalued due to the concept that with the internet, anyone can be a journalist. Amazon is full of reviews of films, books and everything else, so why do we need to pay to read reviews? This point comes back to credible and quality journalism. Very often, Amazon and similar websites are filled with ‘reviews’ by faceless people hiding behind a username, who either love or hate the product (or write very silly reviews, like with this banana slicer). It’s hard to trust someone when a) you don’t know their style of writing and previous reviews; b) you don’t know who they write for, or what their bias is and; c) you don’t even know their name. This is why quality and knowledgeable reviews will always be needed and will never be devalued.
Another factor to consider is that certain companies offer cash incentives to get people to write fake and/or positive reviews for their products in order to boost their sales. This blog post, by Armando Roggio (2012), debates the idea further and sums up by saying:
“Online retailers should always aim to serve customers, even when they are encouraging reviews, and in the light of The New York Times article and other published reports, serving customers may mean changing how review marketing is done. Sometimes what seems like a clever marketing or advertising plan in conference rooms may unintentionally seem unethical when presented to customers or the media.”
Francois Nel’s (2010) ‘Laid Off: What do UK journalists do next?‘ explores, with a study, the decline of the UK’s mainstream journalism corporations and touches on the fact that perhaps some change is needed with the online evolution. Nel (2010) suggests that the more traditional media organisations need to ‘restructure’ and ‘reinvent’ themselves in order to survive in the Digital Age. However, unlike Bradshaw (2009), Nel (2010) does not really go into any further detail on this point.
To summarise, although Bradshaw makes some strong points about how online journalism is changing the economics of news, perhaps with this blog post, he has not totally considered that readers still want – and need – quality journalism. Public opinion is often vital, and yes, you don’t need to be a journalist in order to know stuff and write well about it, but with websites like Amazon, it can be hard to trust a faceless username.