In recent months the journalism world has seen familiar names cross over from traditional media publications to the land of new media, with the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz the latest example. These moves have incited talk about what this means for journalists, but Ken Doctor just wrote a great piece for the Nieman Journalism Lab’s website about what these moves say about the journalism business.
Doctor sees a certain convergence in the style of news gathering. Much of new media is about doing things on the cheap. Companies like Yahoo News (a failed search engine portal), AOL (a transitioning dial-up provider), and the Huffington Post (a website not known for paying for writing) built their news sites on “non-professional staff content,” and are now adding respected journalists that “bring cred — and legitimacy,” according to Doctor. Larger newspapers like the New York Times have been going the other way by assembling local blog networks. The two sides will become more and more alike, the thinking goes.
This all sounds reasonable. Except I think it’s easier for new media to pick up top talent and continue with their existing model than it is for traditional media to accept cheaply sources (and generally poorer quality) stories. Publications like the Huffington Post are attractive to reporters because they let them express their opinions and write as they like. But how much can old media stomach of articles that don’t meet their current journalistic standards?
Doctor predicts that by 2015 media companies will have well-paid journalists and cheap news under one umbrella, giving news a new look. The question is who will get the talent balance right. As of now, I would give new media the edge.