Wall Street Journal Gets Rid Of Its Research Librarian

from the what-are-they-doing-instead? dept

Apparently, the Wall Street Journal has eliminated the two research librarian jobs at the paper with no plans to replace them. The idea, apparently, is that reporters should be doing their own damn research from now on. I actually have rather mixed feelings on the news. At a time when newspapers should be focused on providing a better product to remain relevant, you have to wonder if removing research services makes sense. However, the question remains as to whether or not the position is really needed. This is not -- at all -- to suggest that research librarian aren't quite good at what they do and provide a truly valuable service. But, it is true that the tools for research have become much cheaper and accessible for anyone.

And, therein lies the challenge. If the WSJ were willing to replace the lost librarians with a crowd-sourced or "open" research process, that might be quite interesting. While not let the community help with the research? In many ways that could be a lot more effective and useful. But, somehow I doubt that's what's going to happen. Traditional newspapers still have this fear of tipping off anyone as to what they're working on until the "final story" is ready to go. So, they'll probably just remain as closed as usual. At the same time, though, why not create a more centralized "research" service that various news organizations can tap into, so that they don't duplicate efforts. By making more information more accessible, shouldn't it improve researching ability?
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Filed Under: library, newspapers, research
Companies: wall street journal

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  1. identicon
    Mike K, 12 Feb 2009 @ 6:47am

    I think the author of this article (and the editors of the WSJ) do not really understand how much better a Research Librarian is than your average person at researching a topic. A Research Librarian is an expert in finding all of the relevant information on a particular topic; knowing which reference materials and indexes to check before concluding a search. You cannot reasonable expect everyone to learn how to do in-depth research on their own. No more than a police station could lay-off all of the Squad Car mechanics and expect the officers to maintain their own squad cars.

    Most people simply Google or Wikipedia a topic and consider their research complete.

    Google, Wikipedia and other Internet based search tools are no better than the people who created the content. Most of whom are not experts in their field. Remember that most peer reviewed publications are not available electronically without very expensive subscriptions. Research Librarians (via their library) have access to those publications along with the multitudes of information that has never been published in an electronic form.

    Don't get me wrong, I love Wikipedia, and every Wiki out there, but when you are operating on a professional level, you need to conduct your research in a professional manner.

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