Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hey, Writer: Here's An Answer to “Whaca gonna do?”

Advertising and news have "decoupled" -- meaning that a lot of cash-strapped newspapers and magazines are getting rid of their professional journalists. So now what?

Writing for Time magazine on June 8, James Poniewozik focused the lively discussion on "If the journalism business fails, who pays for journalism?" This conversation is must reading for everybody in the “information business,” but for writers it’s a road map of frustrations and possibilities.

In his piece, Poniewozik is imagining what sorts of paying jobs journalists might turn to as newspaper and magazine work dries up. He’s touched on such possible sources of money as moonlighting, crowdsourcing, mining and cataloging social media content for clients, reporting for nonprofits, writing for “sponsors,” writing content for corporate websites, creating products like newsletters to attract local advertising, and shifting from being a journalist to becoming the expert “source.”

As interesting as Poniewozik’s article, are the 27 comments (today’s count) from fellow journalists.

• One compared society’s dependence on the “raw material of daily journalism” to Wal-Mart’s reliance on cheap Chinese imports: Without it, we got nothin'.

• Somebody else suggested that when we lose professional journalists, we also lose a) neutrality/impartiality, b) the wherewithal to “dig” for a story, and c) broadcast news itself, which, the commentator argued, is essentially a rebroadcast of newspaper journalists’ work.

• One feisty commentator, suggested journalists grab a job in PR as soon as possible. “Who needs newspapers or the creatures who barely make a living writing for newspapers? Writing for newspapers isn’t a skilled occupation, You can learn it on the job in a week or less.”

There’s a lot more to consider in this piece. As a writer caught in the “decoupling” of money and wordsmithing, I plan to study this article, contemplate the comments, follow the primary and subsequent links, and devise my own strategy for getting paid. More to come …

- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

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