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There Are Lots Of Ways To Fund Journalism

from the if-you-look-around dept

As various folks in the news business (and outside of it) continue to fret about how it could be possible to ever fund the production of news, some are taking more positive looks at the space. Jay Rosen has listed out 18 different sources of subsidies for funding journalism (or journalism-like) work. Some of them are better than others, but it's a useful list to get you a thinking. Full disclosure: a part of our own business model is on the list. Along those lines, since people have been saying nice stuff about our business model, Jesse Hirsh has a way-too-nice writeup about our CwF+RtB experiment, which I still think is a bit short of a full business model, but is getting closer. Based on our experiences with it, we're getting more and more ideas on how to fund not just journalism, but all sorts of content creation.

And, really, that's the idea. There are lots of different ideas and experiments going on -- and many of them are showing early signs of success, and I'm sure more will come along at a later date that are even more successful. Really, the only ones complaining and demanding changes to the law are those who represent the old way of doing things, and don't want to change. They talk up all sorts of horror stories and moral panics about how "journalism" or "music" or "movies" are going to go away -- despite the fact that we actually have more of all three of those things happening today than at any time in history. Based on that faulty reasoning, they demand special protection not for "journalism" "music" or "movies" but for the old business models and old institutions that produced all three.

Eventually, as these new business models and new institutions work themselves out, it'll suddenly seem "obvious" what the right answers were, and people will forget the hundreds if not thousands of different experiments -- both good and bad -- that went into developing the new model. It's a time of upheaval, for sure, but there's no indication that there's any real risk to the production of content. Just a few businesses that got big and don't want to change with the times.
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Filed Under: business models, funding, jay rosen, journalism


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  1. icon
    chris (profile), 20 Nov 2009 @ 8:15am

    Re: Re:

    Additionally, if major league was gone, the exhorbitant amounts of money spent on it could help fund far more baseball at the lower levels. I understand the natural desire to be bigger, but bigger isn't always better.

    not to mention that bigger is less adaptable to change. sure, you get economies of scale and the like, but if the market changes, then the changes you make will have to be large scale as well, meaning slow and costly.

    part of the problem with "major leagues" not changing with the times is that there is so much involved with changing a big institution. i would imagine that to many content types, it seems easier to change the market and punish consumers than it would be to change internally.

    it's like changing the course of a ship: a battleship can't turn quickly, can't turn sharply, and can't turn often. attempting to do so could be disastrous. smaller ships can turn quick, sharp, and often and suffer far less when doing so.

    also, if there is a large number of small ships, some can turn in a variety of directions while others maintain their present courses. if some of them sink there is less impact than the loss of a single large ship.

    so while the loss of "major league" content production is inevitable it's not a bad thing, on the contrary, it's a very good thing. smaller, more specialized firms will emerge to deliver content that is more tailored to specific customer interests.

    this trend is already apparent: since i can get news from anywhere, i choose to get my national news from british papers (the BBC, the telegraph, and the guardian) even though i am american and live in the US. i find that the british view of the US contains way less spin than CNN, fox news, or the new york times.

    i am sure brits will tell you that the beeb and the others are just as corrupt as their american counterparts, but the difference is that british papers have fewer american advertisers, owe less to the american government, and therefore are more likely to be objective.

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