Friday, May 29, 2009

making money online?

AP reports that bunch of newspaper execs got together in Chicago yesterday to try to figure out how to make money off online content as a way to save newspapers. Possibly, that ship has sailed. Another vision is called for, maybe?

Perhaps the better question would be, should have been, how do we save journalism in the event that we can't save newspapers?

James Warren, former Managing Editor of the Chicago Tribune blogs about the meeting -- he wasn't there -- on the Atlantic's website. (Be sure to read the comments.) From his post:

Now, more than ever, is a time for creativity and nerve, not just hunkering down and crossing fingers that safe harbor will appear on the horizon. [Newspapers are a] wonderful and important product, vital to American communities. Unlike a lot of jobs, you can look yourself in the mirror and know you're doing some good. Many newsrooms remain filled with a sense of mission even amid the looming dread.

At the behest of new corporate superiors (yes, some from radio), I helped oversee the painful layoffs of about 100 in the Chicago Tribune newsroom last year, before being dispatched by someone the Marlon Brando character in "Apocalypse Now" might characterize as "an errand boy sent by grocery clerks to collect the bill."

Fine. It was now their company. I just wish that what would have ensued might have been a strategy beyond a rather pedestrian one, rife with talk of "relevance" and "utility," with a multitude of lists, consumer reporting and de facto aping of local television; all the while needlessly undermining the loyalty of tried-and-true older readers while chasing after youth. It's less what the late philosopher Hannah Arendt tagged the banality of evil than it is the evil of banality.

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