Matthew Holt

I shake my fist at Clay Shirky!

Last week (Tuesday to be precise) Chris Rauber, the health care journo at the SF Business Times calls me to talk about health care IT. But he ends with a question that’s not about Health care or IT, but aimed at me as a blogger. He says “what do you think is the future business model for journalism”

I’ve been mulling this a little bit and my response went something like, media is now disaggregated. Craigslist and Google have destroyed the advertising model for most media, and blogs and social networks have democratized the commentary/opinion playing field (to some extent—I’m not as rich as Tom Friedman yet!). The problem is that not many “new” media outlets—such as THCB—can afford to take on the interesting part, which is paying real investigative journalists to investigate. Something I would love to be bale to do—as there’s lots of muck to be raked in health care.

When THCB gets rich enough to hire Chris, Lisa Girion, & Barbara Martinez and put them in the mix of commentary and punditry we now have on the site, then there’ll be no need for the current newspapers Until then I don’t know what the answer is.

I was so pleased with myself that I was actually going to write a piece about this but then  on Friday Clay Shirky wrote a much better piece about it than I ever could.

So go read “Newspapers & thinking the unthinkable”

(here’s where you need to imagine me shaking my fist Colbert style)”SHIIRRRKKKKYYY……”

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9 replies »

  1. I’m a big Shirky fan, but would add that Dana Blankenhorn has written extensively and as acutely as Shirky about the fates of journalism & print news media since at least 1997.

  2. “When THCB gets rich enough to hire Chris, Lisa Girion, & Barbara Martinez and put them in the mix of commentary and punditry we now have on the site, then there’ll be no need for the current newspapers”
    This is what killed the papers and journalism in general. A bunch of people being paid to report on a subject matter they have no understanding of. You can’t learn insurance in a matter of weeks you have to investigate and write a piece. It takes years. As soon as someone becomes a full time paid journalist they are detached from the subject matter they are reporting. If you want good journalism pay Chris, Lisa, and Barbara to continue doing what they do and report as a second job. It is much easier to teach someone to write and edit then it is to teach them the ends and outs of insurance, markets, medicine or just about any other subject.
    It’s bad enough most journalist and editors don’t know enough to get the facts strait but then they pepper even the news with commentary and ideology.
    Blogging and citizen journalism are going to kill off newspapers and journalism as it is today. As flawed and left leaning as it is the “reporting” on THCB is a million years ahead of any daily paper. The posters here forget more about the subject matter they write on then the whole of the MSM has ever known. Most journalists couldn’t carry on a discussion about the subject matters discussed here in the detail they are.
    The challenge will be how to monetize the work, people gladly pay $0.50 to $1.00+ to get shallow reporting full of errors along with some ads and sports scores but for now haven’t been willing to pay for more accurate detailed full blown discussions. Troubling will be getting people to pay for information they disagree with so violent debate can happen and the truth hopefully be revealed. Facts and accuracy to date is a victim of both models. Hopefully people are more likely to get accurate information piecing it together from 3-4 blogs then relying on their one daily paper. This assumes they care enough to read multiple sources with differing ideologies. Most of your blogs are honest and upfront about their leanings, the public just needs educated how to sort out the truth for themselves instead of relying upon someone to feed it to them.

  3. You’re right, Matthew. Shirky has written a fucking brilliant essay.
    Some newspapers DID see this coming fairly early- the San Jose Mercury News and the Washington Post. What they did didn’t work. What newspapers really didn’t see was craigslist, which nuked their major revenue source. It wasn’t so much the free distribution of content, but the free distribution of local advertising, that killed this medium. And we’ll see a whole rash of bankruptcies this year, and a whole bunch of venerable mastheads sinking beneath the waves.
    The New York Times is very fast running out of cash, so the fate of the Grey Lady is likely to be the bellwether. I’m betting on the NPR business model for the Times, and interesting to see of Michael Bloomberg will back it, given that his media empire is a potential beneficiary of the Times’ demise. I stopped paying for the Times about three years ago, after reading it for 35 years, because I realized that that was the most effective way of striking back at their sanctimonious pontificating masquerading as objective reporting and their irritating editorial page. It worked.
    What we’re really going to lose is not reporting, per se, but editing and fact checking. I’ve written for national publications, and the fervor with which their fact checking departments attack each new piece is something to behold. There was a marvelous essay by John McPhee on the New Yorker’s fact checkers about a month ago and after I read it, I realized that it is those folks who disappear.
    That and the tough minded editor who says, “You can say this better in half the space”. Look at what has happened to a certain brilliant former Barrons’ reporter who appears in this space sometimes, whose posts just seem to get longer and loopier and eventually loop back and swallow the head like a famished python. Alan Abelson would have said, “Where are you going with this?” We’re going to lose the Alan Abelsons and the fact checkers.
    And I’m sure that the people at Google are going, “When does the targeted advertising model that generates all our obscene profits disappear just like the classified ad revenues and leave us with all this overhead”? You might profitably talk more about how Health 2.0 gets paid at your Boston confab. Sooner or later, disruption needs to be financed or it, too, sinks below the waves.

  4. A promise of compensation for specific potential future losses in exchange for a periodic payment. Insurance is designed to protect the financial well-being of an individual, company or other entity in the case of unexpected loss. Some forms of insurance are required by law, while others are optional.Everything you ever needed or wanted to know about disability and long term care insurance.

  5. I’ve been trying to get some local newspapers in my area to do some investigative reporting on private equity for-profit nursing homes. I’ve asked reporters that I suspect they do not want to risk their jobs writing about nursing home.
    I received an interesting reply from one local reporter. She wished she were able to do investigative work like they did in the old days. These days, editors want 15- to 20-inch stories (three a day) in which they skim the surface of the topic of the day.
    It’s unfortunate and it is the direction newspapers seem to be headed. Not the noble profession most of them signed up for.

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