Thursday, June 18, 2009

Morning routine: walk in. Dump food on desk. Fill water bottle. ...Get advised to cater to business interests in an upcoming story?

I stopped off at an ed's desk about an email he, I, and two others were sent by a contact yesterday, about a workshop for seniors on re-selling property, through ebay and other means. He says to go ahead and check it out, then says "Oh - just to let you know, the business office gets kinda funky when we cover competing interests, like ways to sell things over the internet."

I thought I covered my raised hackles and urge to growl quite well as I tossed back with minimum sarcasm, "I think they missed that boat. About five years ago."

He chuckled unconvincingly.

News stories shouldn't be slanted by the business interests of their papers. Of course, as the resident idealistic realist, I get that without the business offices, I wouldn't be sitting at this pretty little desk with this pretty little flat panel typing these pretty little words. For a moment I considered exonerating my business-conscious bud, then I thought -

No! This is exactly what's wrong with the business of journalism. Effective journalism comprises reporting the facts. What kind of journalist would I be if I avoided reporting on ebay, craigslist, facebook, twitter, and the like just because they represent competition? The business of journalism is defeating the journalism business. We have to change the model.

To what? Well, I'm still working on that. According to the Knight Foundation, though, foundations are starting to play a bigger role.

Next question: Can foundations play a big enough role to support a viable industry? Not the existing industry, necessarily, but at least a satisfying future model?

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