Journalism and the internet: a profitable relationship?

The internet has shaken up the world of journalism and left us gasping for breath.  In what feels like a unbelievably short space of time, the long-established rules of journalism have been both challenged and broken.  It’s now no longer acceptable to be “technologically challenged” and journalists must constantly think about how to engage the internet audience, as well as make their efforts profitable.  It all seems a bit overwhelming.

The Internet Manifesto offers a positive take on what is to many of us scary, unknown territory.  The writer argues that the online world will make journalism freer, more flexible and more creative.  Instead of being restricted to daily press, publishers are able to update their stories within a matter of minutes.  We are no longer restricted to solely writing text, but can include videos and links to illustrate our story.  I agree that all this is positive and can be used to our advantage.  However, it still remains unclear exactly how this will be financed.  The Manifesto says that other ways of generating revenue aside from advertising must be “forged and tested”.  So isn’t innovation in finance something we should be focusing on, as well as innovation in content?

Alison Gow says not.  In Five phrases to outlaw in newsrooms, she argues that profit shouldn’t concern journalists since Advertising departments have  traditionally been the “newsroom’s mad wife in the attic”.  This may have been the case before, but whether it should stay this way is another issue.   At a time when boundaries between departments are being blurred, it seems to me that journalists must also consider how to make their work profitable.  After all, the harsh reality is that if the publication doesn’t generate money, it will be hard-pressed to generate jobs.

Making internet journalism work from a business point of view is an issue challenging all publications, and I’m not sure the responsibility should lie solely with Advertising Departments.  Perhaps if departments work together to find solutions which are appropriate to both the content and the audience, they can come up with creative solutions to the problem.

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