Journalism and the Humanities

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The first thing that struck me in this article (and something that has struck me since I took my first journalism class freshman year) is how unfortunate it is that the industry didn’t adapt to the changing world quicker. What I mean by this is how journalists failed to charge for their content online from the very beginning. Had they done so, the Internet would be a much more profitable realm than it is today. Rather than relying on advertising and hit-or-miss paywalls, the general news content online would all be paid for by the public accessing that information. Those payments might lessen with the development of social media like Facebook and Twitter, but people would have been accustomed to paying for access to news content and the online news stories would take in much larger profits. But because so much of the Internet’s appeal early on was how nearly everything was so free, news assumed that position as well. By failing to recognize how prevalent the Internet would be just a few years down the road, particularly in the area of news consumption, our profession was not prepared for the Internet boom.

Second, I found the connection between the humanities and journalism to be interesting. The author is correct in writing that a return to in-depth stories could result in more profitability. People who enjoy in-depth stories usually enjoy them because they recognize the substantial amount of effort and research and reporting that goes into writing them and therefore, would not be as opposed to paying for more quality work. For example, in sports journalism, ESPN’s 30-for-30 productions rake in a large amount of viewers and even more money when they are released on DVD. The in-depth reporting of Sports Illustrated requires a subscription and online, visitors and site regulars pay for the best analysis with an Insider account they pay for. In other words, in-depth stories attract a specific audience willing to pay for that kind of content.

Finally, the most interesting thing I took from the article is also the most uplifting piece of information it had to offer: namely, journalism is not dead in the water by any means. Yes, the industry will have to struggle to find ways to stay profitable (particularly online), but there is always room for experimentation and innovation. The author mentions there is no set game plan, but if journalism can mingle with the humanities as they once did, the profits may soon follow.