Sponsored by:

vt.Buzz ~ a political blog

Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



'Our democracy is at risk'

The crowd at the Council of State Governments Eastern Regional Conference in Burlington heard a speech today on a topic near and dear to me: The future of state news reporting. If speaker Pete Hamill had the answer I wanted to hear it.

So did he have the answer? Sort of. He offered a hint of hope.

Hamill, who started his career at the New York Post and has written nine novels, set the stage by reminding the crowd that the media is essential to democracy, to teaching people about their community. "The need to explain is always there," he said.

Hamill warned the group of the peril society faces. On a subway in New York City recently, he recounted, a few people were reading papers but the majority either "thumbers" working their BlackBerries or people just staring into space. The Internet that those thumbers were accessing poses a daunting challenge to media, who haven't yet figured out how to make a living off it.

Hamill said he thinks one possible solution is charging for content online. The Wall Street Journal does it. I read recently that the Daily Gazette in Schenectady is going back to that. It should be clear soon whether that will help, he said. "We'll know better in maybe 11 minutes the way things are going. Certainly by the end of the year."

Will it be enough? Hamill hopes so, and perhaps he persuaded a roomful of lawmakers to hope so.

"We need it because the essence of our democracy is at risk," he said.

- Terri Hallenbeck

Labels: , , ,


Thank you for this post.

My heart goes out to the thousands of American journalists whose livelihoods are collapsing with business models of the pre-internet era.

The skill and productivity of professional journalists astounds me. I hate seeing great and noble work undermined by the almighty dollar.

Possible silver lining: the thousands of professional journalists losing jobs may be contributing even more to Democracy than before, when every published word belonged to the Man. The pay is not as good, but there is no decrease in benefit to the public for your vital contributions.

Democracy will not be the same and not all the changes will be good. Undercutting the financial model for journalism is sad and frightening, even when it is not a direct threat to my income stream.

Thank you again for this sparkling example of professional-grade writing. Non-professionals cannot do it. There will be a growing need for competent journalists. Like so many other areas, how to pay for it? This one is going to take awhile to even out.

Best regards,
Dan Allen
I have paid for online news in the past, and will gladly do so in the future.

That being said, I have had it up to my eyeballs with the insufferable whining of the industry about this issue. The industry decided years ago to start giving their product away for free, and then they expressed shock - SHOCK! - that their business model wasn't working.

So here's my Business 101 lesson for the newspaper industry: STOP GIVING YOUR PRODUCT AWAY FOR FREE. 20 years ago I always had to pay for my newspaper, and as much as I have liked my "free" news of late I am prepared to start paying for it again!
The Freeps would have to be offering something way above and beyond what's available on the internet for free in order to convince this news junkie to pay for access. It's not like the news is any different on the Freeps site than it is on any other VT news outlet's site. Even the blog traffic has dropped off considerably, so that's not even a draw anymore.
What is with newsies needing to prop themselves up as some pillar of democracy? You report the news and I promise you there are enough stories out there and you dont have to be filling your space with useless self aggrandizing and patting yourself on the back. Get over yourself, you too Dan.

Maybe if you could find away to stop seeing yourself as somehow irreplaceable, you'd be able to adapt your business model to stay solvent. But you going listening to people tell you your awesome, and worse yet YOU WRITING ABOUT PEOPLE TELLING YOU YOUR AWESOME, isnt going to help you still have a job in 5 years.
Post a Comment

<< Home

Recent Posts

Recent Comments


June 2006   July 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   June 2007   July 2007   August 2007   September 2007   October 2007   November 2007   December 2007   January 2008   February 2008   March 2008   April 2008   May 2008   June 2008   July 2008   August 2008   September 2008   October 2008   November 2008   December 2008   January 2009   February 2009   March 2009   April 2009   May 2009   June 2009   July 2009   August 2009   September 2009   October 2009   November 2009   December 2009   January 2010   February 2010   March 2010   April 2010