Monday round up: tackling some of the big questions


Are companies such as Google going to pay for the material they use?
Writing in the Guardian, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd tries to persuade chief executive Eric Schmidt to "just write us a big cheque for using our stories, so we can keep checks and balances alive and continue to provide the search engine with our stories". Newspapers could always opt out of giving Google their content for free, answers Schmidt.

Can traditional media fight back?
Associated Press threatened legal action against aggregator sites earlier this month and Robert Thomson, editor of The Wall Street Journal told the Australian that aggregator sites such as Google and Newser are the "parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the internet" and will soon be challenged.

Can new business models be found?
Steven Brill, Gordon Crovitz, and Leo Hindery announced plans for Journalism Online, citing the “urgent need” for a business model to “facilitate the ability of newspaper, magazine and online publishers to realize revenue from the digital distribution of the original journalism they produce” rounds up some of the reporting.

Or have newspapers blown their chances?
Buzzmachine blogger Jeff Jarvis has little sympathy: “Newspapers have had 20 years since the start of the web, 15 years since the launch of the commercial browser and Craigslist, and 10 since the start of the Google and blogs, to see the upheaval in the media and reinvent themselves for a new age. But most didn’t and those that did change didn’t do enough. So now, for may, it is too late and no last-ditch moves will save the day.

Jarvis highlights an Atlantic magazine survey which showed that two thirds of the “esteemed, mostly print, American journalists” questioned said the internet is harmful to journalism. “Well the web has been harmful to the maintenance of their comfortable hegemony over news and advertising,” argues Jarvis, adding: But in truth, the internet presents no end of opportunity to them. They didn’t grab it. They blew it.”

Traditional openings for trainees are disappearing and so are the traditional jobs:

Following the announcement that the Press Association is suspending its multi-media training scheme, Adrian Monck from City University tells Jon Slattery writing in the MediaGuardian that “the concept of traineeship is disappearing – along with the idea of life-time progression – within legacy media organisations, which are the only ones that tend to have them".

But the numbers of students on journalism courses still remains large but many are being “advised to consider public relations or to look at ways of using their skills in alternative fields because the job market in journalism is so bad”.

Shouldn’t these young journalists be engaged in solving the problem?

As Donald Trelford points out in the Independent: “The industry in which I have spent half a century may have to learn very quickly that society doesn’t need newspapers any more. But it will still need journalism to find things out and explain the world’s complexities. The challenge – not just for newspaper companies, but for society as a whole – is how to pay for that when traditional sources of revenue have disappeared or moved elsewhere.”

Should journalists be encouraged to develop skills that will equip them to work in the kind of new model journalism Jarvis tells the Washington Post he is looking for?

Photograph – Dead Sea Newspaper by Inju