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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Future of journalism

I actually started writing this before the Indy got shut down, I've been thinking about it for a while. Not that I'm a journalist, of course, so this is mostly hot air (oh wait, maybe I am? :)).

It was in conversation with a friend before Christmas that I said "I think there will always be people who are ready to pay for quality writing". But having said that, I wondered if it was true. And even if it's true, will 'serious' journalism be a viable profession?

At the moment, the odds seem to be stacked up against:
- Computers can do quite a good job of 'churnalism': I read somewhere that Forbes company results articles are computer generated.
- People seem to be increasingly content with 'dross and inanity'. Partly because the advertisers have mastered the weaknesses of our psychology: notably our nosiness and curiosity.
- Even the 'best' are falling/failing: either the ones where the lights are going out (Indy), or the ones where the brains are falling out (Telegraph)

But there is an extra factor which has occurred to me more recently, which is that writers will write, whatever. I mean, I've been writing this blog 'for free' for 11+ years now. Not a great example, I admit, but think of iMonk: quality, almost daily, content for nothing. Difficult to make a living from writing if other people are doing it for free anyway.

So I'm not sure either way now. I had hopes for The Intercept, but it has got a bit too blindly  anti-Western for my liking. And there too, the 'business model' for the moment is "spend money given by very rich person". Welcome back to the age of Da Vinci etc., where artists were paid by rich benefactors to do their thing.

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