Tuesday, September 15, 2009

And They Should Care About The Business Side

I think a common problem with the general genre of "how we must save journalism" and its hilarious companion "how we must save journalism by telling our readers how important we are" is that quite often it's clear that the journalists writing them have little or no idea what exactly their business/revenue model is. They aren't supposed to worry their beautiful minds about such things, with the fake wall between the advertising and journalism desks. But of course that's also why the concept of a "newspaper" got somewhat frozen in time, as people creating content just did things the way they did them because that's what journalism is, instead of spending time thinking about what kind of product people/advertisers might actually want. It took a large bit of willful blindness, as of course there are whole sections in newspapers which are there so that advertisers have a place to put stuff.

There are certain ethical boundaries, mostly obvious, that one doesn't want to cross. Journalists shouldn't be tasked to write puff pieces about major advertisers, for example. But there's nothing wrong with journalists thinking about and being acquainted with what the marketing side thinks sells, either to readers or advertisers. There's nothing wrong with trying to give the people what they want. Now I'm not confident that doing so will necessarily make for a product that I think is better, but I also don't think there's any reason to cling to recently established norms which are neither appealing to readers nor particularly helpful with respect to informing them.