Optimism is dead

How viable are news operations, actually, in this brave new world of technology?

In Paul Bradshaw’s post ‘How the web changed the economics of news’, a list of “changes” to be taken advantage of by news organisations is set out, the author’s how-to in reality-check format. Though his mention of ‘Measurability of users’ and ‘Digitisation and convergence’ hit home in explaining the usefulness of the web, holes in his arguments could give journalists that sinking feeling of industry failure. If ‘technology has reduced the cost of newsgathering, production and distribution to almost nil,’ then why are media organisations declining? Quality costs, but fewer are willing to pay.

Then we have Francois Nel’s ‘Laid Off Report‘, a collection of dismal figures and ominous forecasts (“this much is clear: the layoffs aren’t over”). The key focus here, however, is “traditional” journalism, and mixed responses from those who’ve been forced to say farewell to it. Bradshaw lays out the challenges and realities of a new media environment, and Nel’s report shows the realities in cold, hard numbers – through it all my optimism as an aspiring journalism is declining, apparently just like my chosen industry. Or maybe, honestly, I’m just confused with the overwhelming analyses and strategies about the business itself.

With endless words like these from journalists about journalism, and everyone clawing at tips on how to make it, maybe the trick to the industry’s survival is it continuing to talk about itself?