But who’s going to pay for all this journalism??

Tuesday, RJI fellow David Cohn will come to class to talk about the thing we haven’t talked about at all this semester: how to pay for journalism. You know the story: newspaper readership is steadily declining. Audiences stalled or declined on every platform except the web last year, according to the Pew Center for Excellence in Journalism annual report, “The State of the News Media.”

The migration to the web also continued to gather speed. In 2010 every news platform saw audiences either stall or decline — except for the web. Cable news, one of the growth sectors of the last decade, is now shrinking, too. For the first time in at least a dozen years, the median audience declined at all three cable news channels.

For the first time, too, more people said they got news from the web than newspapers.

But here’s the thing: while online ad revenue was expected to exceed print ad revenue last year for the first time (when the final numbers are in), most of the revenue is going to aggregators — not newspapers (though most of the news people are reading on line originated at a newspaper — no fair!).

So what about just letting the public partner with journalists to pay for and get stories done that need doing? That’s what Spot. Us is about, and that’s what David is mainly going to be talking about. It’s not just about the money, though; it’s about ideas. The community has a lot of them, as we’ve talked about with Joy Mayer, and this looks like another way to listen to those ideas.

BTW, David has an interesting take on the New York Times paywall (not a wall at all, he argues).

What do you think: Is it a wall? Or is it really a donation system?


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3 Responses to But who’s going to pay for all this journalism??

  1. Camille Phillips says:

    I don’t think it’s a donation system by intention, but I see David’s point about it being a donation system in function. There are ways to get access without paying the subscription, but convenience and perception go a long way. I think the New York Times doesn’t want to label it a donation because that would be admitting that they need help and would to their perception lessen the value of their brand.

  2. Ryan Cornell says:

    I think it depends on the readership of each publication. Granted, NYT savants are intelligent enough to bypass the ‘wall’. But I believe they have a deep-seated loyalty built in them over years of poring over great journalism to warrant some extra sponsorship.

    On the other hand, the Washington Times (no offense to them) would lose a lot of their readers to the Post if they implemented a pay wall.

    But seriously, guilt plays an enormous part in this. Whenever I tune in to “This American Life” and hear Ira Glass’ plea for funding help, I telekinetically tell him that I will help out, just in a few years more when I’m not a broke college kid.

  3. Alahandra Jones says:

    What I found most interesting about Cohn’s commentary was his “Modest Proposal.” I think they way we talk about stakeholders in stories should be the attitude we adopt when we consider general reporting. The argument always comes up that news doesn’t tell people what to think, but what to think about. As journalsim changes, and has become more participatory, I think readers should have more of a say in what is being reporter; especially if they are paying for it (which I do not object).

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