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Pay-Per-View Journalism Is Burning Out Reporters Young 227

Posted by kdawson
from the digital-sweatshops dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Young journalists once dreamed of trotting the globe in pursuit of a story, but the NY Times now reports that instead many are working online shackled to their computers, where they try to eke out a fresh thought or be first to report even the smallest nugget of news — anything that will impress Google's algorithms and draw readers their way. The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times all display a 'most viewed' list on their home pages; some media outlets, including Bloomberg News and Gawker Media, now pay writers based in part on how many readers click on their articles. 'At a [traditional] paper, your only real stress point is in the evening when you're actually sitting there on deadline, trying to file,' says Jim VandeHei, Politico's executive editor. 'Now at any point in the day starting at 5 in the morning, there can be that same level of intensity and pressure to get something out.' The pace has led to substantial turnover in staff at digital news organizations. At Politico, roughly a dozen reporters have left in the first half of the year — a big number for a newsroom that has only about 70 reporters and editors. 'When my students come back to visit, they carry the exhaustion of a person who's been working for a decade, not a couple of years,' says Duy Linh Tu of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. 'I worry about burnout.'"
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Pay-Per-View Journalism Is Burning Out Reporters Young

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  • It doesn't matter (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nadaka (224565) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:06PM (#32969544)

    Investigative journalism is dead.

    The only thing left for journalists to do is put a little spin on corporate and government press releases.

    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:12PM (#32969658)

      Watch a week of The Daily Show. Watch how they compare current comments by politicians to past comments by those same politicians.

      I don't think this is about the time-to-publish.

      I think this is more about not having the depth or experience to dig into the background material. Reporters who really know their subject material will have no problem attracting viewers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Then watch the entire footage those "clips" the Daily Show edits.
        I'm a Daily Show and Colbert fan, but please don't take them as real journalists. Even they themselves say that.

        • by Altus (1034) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:30PM (#32969954) Homepage

          Its not that they are journalists but how is it that nobody in the actual industry ever goes back and calls people on what they said 6 months ago?

          Doing that gets the Daily show a lot of viewers, I would think that doing the same thing in a more rigorous journalistic environment would get you a lot of eyeballs.

          Of course once you start doing that, you loose your access to politicians and people of note because they can always find people willing to show up to a press conference and not ask any difficult questions in the hope of getting a few eyeballs on their web site.

          • by turgid (580780)

            Its not that they are journalists but how is it that nobody in the actual industry ever goes back and calls people on what they said 6 months ago?

            Tune in to Radio 4 [bbc.co.uk] in the morning.

          • by DancesWithBlowTorch (809750) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @07:19PM (#32972246)

            Doing that gets the Daily show a lot of viewers, I would think that doing the same thing in a more rigorous journalistic environment would get you a lot of eyeballs.

            This is exactly what I do not understand about online journalism. At the moment, newspapers seem to be in a race to the bottom, with each trying to publish the same sort of crap before everyone else; mostly rehashed press-releases, all the while complaining that nobody wants to pay for their news online.

            Maybe I am part of a small target group. But, dear newspaper publishers: Please give me a website that
            1. pays talented journalists a decent salary to go out and investigate complex stories, actually reveal novel information, and then come back and write lucid, enlightening stories.
            2. does not show any ads, thereby making itself independent from corporations for revenue, turning the readers into the sole customers.
            3. has a calm, clean layout, accessible from both the desktop and mobile devices, hassle free. Oh, and please actually fill my damn screen with text and images, instead of using 20% of its width to show 50-line articles broken into 5 pages, filling the rest with horrible flash ads.

            I am willing to pay, say, 200$ a year for a subscription to this site (I currently pay a similar amount for print subscriptions to a weekly [newyorker.com] and a monthly [monde-diplomatique.fr] paper). It doesn't have to have hourly updates, all I want is something to read for an hour in bed every evening. I don't understand why such a website doesn't exist yet. I know, ads are an important part of traditional publishing, but web publishing is cheaper (printing presses and paper boys are more expensive than servers and bandwidth), and there are great economies of scale: The first publisher to establish a high-quality online news service will be able to attract readers from the entire English-speaking world.

            Seriously, I don't get it. Why is everyone still trying to make money with ads?

        • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:33PM (#32969992)

          Then watch the entire footage those "clips" the Daily Show edits.
          I'm a Daily Show and Colbert fan, but please don't take them as real journalists. Even they themselves say that.

          True and yet... an awful lot of journalists don't even make it to that low bar.

          On one hand, it's a little bad to forever hold politicians accountable to everything they've ever said, in that it rewards rigidity of thinking and punishes the kind of intellectual and political honesty it takes to be able to admit publically that you were wrong and you've changed your mind.

          On the other hand, it's a lot bad to not hold them accountable at all to their past statements.

          It should be someone's job to do that research and, when relevant, put the positions into context. Is this not the job of a political journalist? Should not some real journalist be able to carve out a niche for themselves by doing the Daily Show style job of saying, "Wait a minute, here's Rudy '9/11' Giuliani claiming that there were no domestic terrorist attacks during the Bush Administration, and he almost can't complete a sentence without referencing one..."?

          I think you'd be able to do that job pretty well even in a non-partisan way -- politicians of every stripe and creed walk into those situations constantly.

          • wait, what? (Score:3, Interesting)

            and political honesty it takes to be able to admit publically that you were wrong and you've changed your mind.

            when have you honestly seen that happen? I've seen them change their minds left and right, but I've never yet heard one say they were wrong and why they have changed thir mind (the only time I've heard one say "I was wrong" was when they got caught in Italy with a rent-a-boy after trying to engrain anti-GLBT language into the constitution)

          • by Redlazer (786403) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @05:04PM (#32970460) Homepage
            This.

            It may be true that things are taken out of context to some extent, but these people are still saying these things.

            TDS and TCR aren't taking a quote like "There's no evidence that Obama is a racist who hates white people" and turning it into "Obama is a racist who hates white people". They are not hiding behind words, lying, or otherwise abusing the concept of journalism. They are no AP, or whoever, but they are ultimately honest commentators who call out when other people are being dishonest.

            Also, a politician who says "I once believe this, but changed my mind because of this, and now I believe this", is promptly removed from office.

        • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:46PM (#32970196)

          Then watch the entire footage those "clips" the Daily Show edits. I'm a Daily Show and Colbert fan, but please don't take them as real journalists. Even they themselves say that.

          Check this Daily Show report out [google.com] (it is a google link since the video keeps getting take down notices on youtube). What you say is a complement really, because if their kind of journalism is not "real" - it is certainly more enlightening than the processed sanitized crap the "pro's" try to shovel down our throats.

        • by jridley (9305)

          Absolutely true. And yet, they're still doing better reporting than a hell of a lot of news sources.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It's sad that Comedy Central actually has one of the better sources for news analysis going. Sad, and hilarious.
        • by kalirion (728907)

          "The daily show, where more Americans get their news than probably should"

          I wonder why they stopped having those mottoes...

        • by Nadaka (224565)

          Sufficiently advanced parody is indistinguishable from sufficiently advanced stupidity.

          • No.

            Parody != stupidity on all and any levels.

            Stupidity might be the fodder for parody.

            Parody might make juicy fun of stupdity.

            Neither relies on the other.

          • Sufficiently advanced parody is indistinguishable from journalism. (forgive me, Arthur)
        • by couchslug (175151)

          I don't find it at all sad to have my news served with wit and insight.

      • Daily Show != news (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Burz (138833) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @05:24PM (#32970810) Journal

        The Daily Show get their news second hand mainly from the 'news' outlets they criticize. Yes, its interesting to see them tear apart the lies, distractions, schizophrenia and lopsidedness that passes for news -- but don't mistake that criticism for actual news.

        What the Daily Show does is a kind of journalism, but they hardly function as 'reporters' in any significant way.

        • by PitaBred (632671)

          They just keep the 4th estate honest. In theory. But it's sad that there has to be someone to do that, because the entire point of journalism is to keep the governmental branches honest...

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:17PM (#32969738) Homepage

      The state of journalism is really sad. So much focus on scandals, not enough on important stories. So much focus on whether politicians' rhetoric is being successful in moving the polls, not enough on whether the politicians' actions are helping people. So much focus on X number of people dying someplace-or-other, with very little description of anything good or productive going on anywhere. So much focus on all the things that will kill you, not enough focus on telling you how you can help others.

      I've given up. I barely pay attention to news anymore.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Pandrake (1513617)

        Ironic that just last night Sean Penn said almost the same thing on PBS Newshour while discussing the problems he faces getting funded for continued relief^^rebuilding efforts in Haiti.

        • I'm probably missing something. Why is that ironic?

      • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:59PM (#32970388)

        I've given up. I barely pay attention to news anymore.

        Its called "extreme narrrowcasting". A pretty effective industry killer. Usually comes from over management and/or over reliance on simplistic metrics. Generally requires an oligopoly where only a couple companies control the market. Also requires shortsightedness, not exactly a quality lacking in American corporations.

        In a healthy ecology of news sources, the supplier with the most "scandal/rhetoric" will probably beat the more bland supplier. However, when escalated, it rapidly repels the population, until one supplier gloriously achieves 100% of the market of the remaining 1% of the consumers.

        In the movie biz, it leads to endless sequels of formulaic movies. In the music biz it leads to lip syncing and formulaic music. In the video game biz it leads to FPS sequels, or in the early 80s led to quite an industry crash. In the news biz it forces tabloid journalism.

        Once enough people are fed up, the entire industry collapses, and reboots, essentially.

        • Usually comes from over management and/or over reliance on simplistic metrics.

          Yeah, or in other words, foolishness and bad judgement. I understand that metrics can be important (you have to measure success somehow), but I think we as a society rely on them too heavily, and they're easy to misunderstand.

      • by Alex Belits (437) *

        The state of journalism is really sad. So much focus on scandals, not enough on important stories. So much focus on whether politicians' rhetoric is being successful in moving the polls, not enough on whether the politicians' actions are helping people.

        It's called "human interest stories". Everything is supposed to be focused around few pretty faces. Journalists elevate personal feelings and achievements of individuals above significance and consequences of those individuals' actions. They can't explain what some scientific discovery, achievement in technology, natural disaster, decision of politicians or any other newsworthy event means in a way relevant to their audience, so they expect that audience will out of the blue care about participants' emotion

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)

      I am not a journalist, but I wonder if the solution to both of those problems is maybe to move back toward a periodical basis for publishing. Just because you -can- update a news website every minute doesn't mean you necessarily -should-, and I think in fact that just because every other website updates every few minutes doesn't mean yours needs to either per se. Maybe if you said "Okay, the front page is going to be updated once a day at noon, that's when the deadline is. A big story breaks an hour afte

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by natehoy (1608657)

        Just because you -can- update a news website every minute doesn't mean you necessarily -should-

        I want to find you and give you a friendly man-hug. I really do. It would be so cool to have reporters actually check their facts and have their editors really give a crap about whether the truth is being at least attempted at.

        I honestly wish the world worked that way, but it doesn't any more.

        If you wait to report your story, by the time you released it everyone would skip right on past the headline saying "nope, read that four hours ago, what are these people smoking that they think I still give a shit?"

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Reziac (43301) *

          Blame radio and then TV. With print, updates were limited by the daily or weekly print schedule, or at worst by morning and afternoon editions. Radio made it possible for "Breaking news" to intrude at any time, and gradually people began to accept that "breaking news" might be, uh, broken news. TV, with its forced sense of in-your-face immediacy, made this worse. And now we have the natural endpoint, Twitter as 'news'.

          I've also stopped paying attention to "breaking news", as being too often broken fluff, or

      • Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post recently wrote a hilariously crotchety op-ed on the subject of real-time news publishing in the era of the internet: "Gene Weingarten column mentions Lady Gaga. [washingtonpost.com]"
      • I prefer that method. I like being able to look at a news site once a day, scan for what I want, and be done with it. /. is actually the only "as it happens" site I read because I simply can't keep up... I have stuff to do.

      • Private Eye, a UK satirical/current affairs magazine comes out twice a month with quite a bit of investigative journalism and lots of things you don't read any where else. They website contains hardly any of their content and they still have quite a few subscribers.

      • I think your desire is echoed by many (myself included) but it is completely invalidated by the 24-hour news cycle.

        By the time you're reporting that event that happened 12-24 hours ago, other sites are reporting on the meta-news. He-said-she-said, or further developing events related to the original news item.

        You'd be hopelessly behind anyone who wants to discuss or act on the news (which, I think, are the major reasons people want news). You couldn't make any money.

        It's not like people searching for ne

        • By the time you're reporting that event that happened 12-24 hours ago, other sites are reporting on the meta-news. He-said-she-said, or further developing events related to the original news item.

          Again, my not being a journalist may be showing here, but that doesn't sound like a bad thing. I -hate- it when I turn on the news, and it's obvious something big happened a few hours ago, and all they're talking about is reactions to the event, or more commonly reactions to reactions.

          More importantly, I have a hard time buying the idea that just because most of the other news does that, that's what people actually want. They don't have much alternative, all the other news sites seem to have the "A story

    • Conversely, the lack of investigative journalists is making the newspapers obsolete. They're being strangled by economics.
    • by DCstewieG (824956)

      Not all dead. The latest addition to my RSS reader: http://www.propublica.org/ [propublica.org]

    • > Investigative journalism is dead.

      Investigate West. The Watchdog Institute. DocumentCloud. The Climate Desk. The Investigative News Network. The Texas Tribune. ProPublica. The Center for Public Integrity.

      Turn off your TV, motherfucker, because the revolution has not been televised.

    • Read the BBC. When I was in India watching the BBC was refreshing. They reported on news around the world. Had in depth investigations and stories. A stark contrast to CNN and the 'OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW' lets look at twitter for a minute...

    • Investigative journalism is dead

      Comments like these on /. puzzle me. On the one hand the majority of slashdotters have made it pretty clear that they're willing to pay for news (apologies if the parent is not in this category). On the other hand, the bemoan all the cutting and pasting, and absence of 'real' journalism. You can't have it both ways...

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      Some people still do it. [investigativeguy.com]

  • by Cornwallis (1188489) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:06PM (#32969550)

    I'm sure this "burnout" isn't confined to journalism. Virtually everybody I know who is shackled to a deskjob with an email account faces the same problem.

    The electronic leash has gotten so tight nobody can breathe anymore. I know I can't.

    No matter how "nice" the workplace, in today's "competitive" marketplace you've got to be first - and if the 20-somethings are feeling that put-upon think how a 50ish guy like me must feel!

    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:12PM (#32969652) Journal

      I'm sure this "burnout" isn't confined to journalism. Virtually everybody I know who is shackled to a deskjob with an email account faces the same problem.

      I tried to tell them that shackles and handcuffs have a direct correlation to carpel tunnel in our office, but some smart ass at the board meeting made note that correlation does not equal causation, making the argument that perhaps people prone to carpel tunnel are the ones who line up for jobs that require shackling.
      I was, however able to convince them to take off the shackles by demonstrating an electric shock collar regularly used to keep dogs in the owners yard can be just as effective.

      • Speaking of carpal tunnel we recently "upgraded" a legacy application that is critical to our business and in doing so introduced a slew of complaints from users who always used keyboard shortcuts to do their work. The new software has eliminated about 75% of the keyboard shortcuts in favor of mousing. While the app looks nicer in everybody's eyes morale has dropped because of this "upgrade" - and we can't downgrade.

    • by qbzzt (11136) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:26PM (#32969880)

      It's competition. When you have ten thousand journalists trying to do a job of a few hundreds, of course they'll have to work extra hard to beat each other.

      If you don't want the electronic leash to be so tight, you have to do something with less competition, where you have a competitive advantage. For example, instead of reporting on standard events, provide analysis based on knowledge that isn't very widely available.

      • Ding ding ding! We have a winner folks! Seriously though, I find the sites I frequent for news are the ones that provide thoughtful analysis and not just plain old regurgitation (though they certainly do that too).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by W2k (540424)
      You chose to wear that leash, don't complain if it doesn't fit.

      I have a desk job with a computer and e-mail. I have a cellphone with my work e-mail so I can stay updated while I'm not in the office, but I only really read it while I'm working. I guess if something really important came up my boss could call me in, and I'd be happy to oblige if I could because I know I would be compensated for it. So far this hasn't ever happened, though. My work weeks are 40 hours, although I feel no need to keep track o
    • The Jungle [wikipedia.org] is electronic now.
  • by Michael Kristopeit (1751814) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:10PM (#32969614)
    in our connected and largely bi-partisan society, there is only a necessity for a single university's graduating journalism class to cover most national events.

    too many people doing the same job... sounds just like the new criticisms with the post 9/11 intelligence agencies.

    the problem is, at 10%+ unemployment, what else are the people going to do?

    • Amen! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Weezul (52464)

      If they're leaving journalism, maybe the next generation will learn form their mistakes, and avoid journalism degrees.

      In fact, we've got very serious problems with journalist simply being ignorant buffoons today. All the real digging gets covered by a few well educated blogs by domain experts, like say 538. We must ensure those independent sources get legit information by protecting groups like wikileaks, zerohedge, etc.

  • Here's a thought (Score:5, Informative)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:13PM (#32969664) Homepage

    Do what Radley Balko, probably the most important civil liberties reporter out there right now, does: actually go after the nitty gritty details of the stories that rub you the wrong way from the police reports. He's taken "mundane" stories and turned them into WTF?! controversies (which they deserved to be) by doing that. To my knowledge, he rarely has to fight with other reporters over the same stories because, well, he actually **investigates** rather than do a few phone calls and call it a day.

  • It's harder to get a scoop that will be picked up globally (internet) versus just local? Why isn't that hard to imagine?

    Journalists no longer have to beat the other local journalists to the punch, they have to beat _every_ journalist to the punch. Welcome to the internet.

    • Journalists no longer have to beat the other local journalists to the punch, they have to beat _every_ journalist to the punch. Welcome to the internet.

      Expounding a bit on that:

      We also have a 24-hour constant news cycle now, rather than having (more or less) a single daily window, either the nightly news if you were a broadcast journalist or the morning paper if you were a print journalist. In other words, previously you were only racing the other local journalists, and if you all managed to get the story

  • bad journalist.

    If all you do is spend your day browsing the web trying to find some info that someone else reported so you can report on it in a sad attempt to get some add impressions then you will find it very hard to consider it fulfilling job.

    On the other hand, its an easy job that requires no brains or effort so you probably should quit your bitching.

    If you want to trot the world, see strange places and break that AWESOME story, then, well, you're going to have to take some risks. Get out from behind

    • by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:22PM (#32969828) Homepage

      If you want to trot the world, see strange places and break that AWESOME story, then, well, you're going to have to take some risks. Get out from behind the desk. Actually see the world and ... GASP ... FIND SOME FUCKING NEWS TO REPORT ON OF YOUR OWN.

      And that's what you do, right? Because it's just that easy. Grab your passport, get some plane tickets, fly your way to Myanmar, buy your way into the inner circle of government, then fly back to Los Angeles and write your exposé on corruption in the Myanmar dictatorship and sell it to the Los Angeles Times for, oh, let's say $1,000. Rinse and repeat. Right?

      • by nschubach (922175)

        Rinse and repeat.

        Why would I want to do the same report twice? ... duh. I'd take that $1000 and run!

      • And that's what you do, right? Because it's just that easy. Grab your passport, get some plane tickets, fly your way to Myanmar, buy your way into the inner circle of government, then fly back to Los Angeles and write your exposé on corruption in the Myanmar dictatorship and sell it to the Los Angeles Times for, oh, let's say $1,000. Rinse and repeat. Right?

        Point well taken, but there's lots of room to add good investigative journalism much closer to home. Every time I watch/read mainstream news, I'

  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:19PM (#32969766) Homepage Journal
    "Young engineers once dreamed of hacking the globe in pursuit of a new invention, but the NY Times now reports that instead many are working shackled to their computers, where they try to eke out a fresh bug or try to solve some miniscule problem involving the smallest of system parts — anything that will impress executive boards and draw bonuses their way. Lockheed Martin, The Boeing Company, and Northrop Grumman all peddle very advanced defense technologies to the United States Government that require armies of engineers to aggregate existing subcomponents from other contractors in order to generate cost plus revenue on project contracts. 'At a [traditional] engineering company, your stress point is just before the design review with the customer, where you are trying to explain the solution to his problem with a last-minute presentation. 'Now at any point in the day starting at 5 in the morning, there can be that same level of intensity and pressure to get something out when one of your middle manager bosses comes knocking at your cubicle entrance for a surprise study of your progress.' The pace has led to substantial turnover in staff at large engineering firms all over the nation. At all three major defense contractors, hundreds of engineers have been laid off due to contract cancellations resulting from schedule overruns. 'When my students come back to visit, they carry the exhaustion of a person who's been working for a decade, not a couple of years,' says [Random Engineering Professor] of the [Random Engineering College]. 'I worry about burnout.'"

    Yup...it fits well enough. Burnout is what happens when retarded business majors and incompetent morons get promoted up the company power ladder for slightly increasing this quarter's profit. If you head up organizations with short term thinkers, then it is the grunt workers at the bottom that suffer in every industry. This is the result of living in a money-worshiping society that values the next dollar above all else.

    You want to do your part to change the way things work in your industry young reporters? It's simple. Stop working for the large media outlets that treat you like a consumable resource. Instead, find a nice local newspaper that treats its employees with respect or, better yet, start your own independent blog. Will you make as much money? Nah. Will you live longer with more sanity? Probably. You can't have your cake and eat it to. Have enough respect for yourself to make your income a means to an end, rather than the end itself, and your employers will start to treat you with respect as well. If you are insecure enough in your persona to let a large company rape you up and down the halls in terms of stress and hours worked, then you are going to get stomped on throughout your entire career until you are finally subdued into a finally beaten pulp of what was once a human being.
    • The paper is being forced to reduce costs. They're doing what a capitalist market demands they do, squeezing every dollar of income they can out of their workers. Truckers get to roll their rigs, shipping yards get to drop crates, and writers get to burn out. Same problem, similar results; but hey, at least there's one advantage to being behind a desk -- less risk of immediate physical injury.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by natehoy (1608657)

      Stop working for the large media outlets that treat you like a consumable resource. Instead, find a nice local newspaper that treats its employees with respect or, better yet, start your own independent blog.

      Find one first. Every newspaper within 150 miles of my house has been bought out by ever-larger conglomerates. Most then immediately cut the local field reporter jobs by about 2/3. After a few rounds of this, our "local" papers are owned by companies three states over, and reporting has been cut to the point where one reporter is responsible for at least 4-5 towns, and a couple of interns per county do filler stories like "Edna's thoughts on turning 103" and "Looka da cute fuzzy puppy!"

      By the time I cut

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rxan (1424721)
      The article says that reporters are getting burnt out because the deadline for articles went from being daily/weekly to a constant of ASAP. If you're going to make a bad analogy at least try to explain how it applies.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:19PM (#32969776)
    Any young journalist coming out of college in *ANY* era thinking that journalism is going to mean "trotting the globe in pursuit of a story" is in for a huge disappointment. Even in the heyday of journalism, very few journalists ever even left their town on city. For every Bob Woodward, there are about 1,000 local reporters whose most exciting story of the year involves an argument at a town council meeting.
  • by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:20PM (#32969796)

    Young journalists once dreamed of trotting the globe in pursuit of a story, but the NY Times now reports that instead many are working online shackled to their computers, where they try to eke out a fresh thought

    That sounds more like editorial than journalism. Investigate. Report news. Leave the fresh thoughts to the readers.

    • by SnowDog74 (745848)

      Murrow and many others, myself included, respectfully disagree. We're human beings. We have points of view. If the news were restricted purely to reporting and not editorial, then we'd be in a very sad state of affairs never being presented with anything to think critically about. It would be like the world in "The Invention of Lying" where every film is just some guy reading passages in history books.

      I'm not encouraging sensationalist journalism either. The Murrow school of thought tends to be this:

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        It would be like the world in "The Invention of Lying" where every film is just some guy reading passages in history books.

        Journalists aren't supposed to be writers of fiction.

        They tend to fudge that, though, which is probably why a lot of people aren't paying attention any more. It's just another form of entertainment now, there is little that is pertinent, and if it is pertinent, you can't tell what's real because the story is so heavily biased by the journalist's personal views.

        A journalist of integrity should be digging up all relevant parts of a story, yet they rarely - if ever - do.

        Editorializing news makes it less usefu

  • Pretty much anything that happened yesterday, can wait until I am ready to read it in tomorrow morning's paper (yes paper).

    I don't want to be bothered with every little detail of the world that emerges throughout the day. That is the reporter's job – to observe, digest, and report each day's news.
  • Headlines (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DIplomatic (1759914) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:23PM (#32969844) Journal

    anything that will impress Google's algorithms and draw readers their way

    This is why headlines have become so outrageously hyperbolic. Few would click a link labeled Obama gives a speech But a headline like Obama STABS Republicans in the HEART with a verbal KNIFE!!!1 and you get a million hits.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The thing is outrageously hyperbolic headlines were around long before Google or even the Internet. The biggest problem with "journalism" is that too many of the people going into the field go into "journalism" in order to "change the world". People should get into journalism in order to tell people what is going on, if you want to "change the world", go into politics.
      Of course if you really want to change the world, become a Big Brother/Big Sister and touch someone's life. As a general rule you can't chan
      • by SnowDog74 (745848)

        I didn't go into film criticism to change the world. I did it because I enjoy analyzing art, the way some people enjoy analyzing politics. If nobody used their critical thinking skills to share their analyses with others, we would be better off how, exactly?

    • Obama STABS Republicans in the HEART with a verbal KNIFE!!!

      That's a good one, when did he do that? I'm really interested now.

      Wait........

    • This is why headlines have become so outrageously hyperbolic.

      No, its not. Headlines were ridiculously hyperbolic long before Google or its algorithms existed. Because headlines ultimately are advertising designed to draw people in, and hyperbole works for that (sure, people start to get numb to it, and you need to use more hyperbole to get the same effect...)

      If the internet has contributed anything to that, its not the search algorithms used by Google so much as the presentation of so many headlines to use

  • Politico? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:33PM (#32969994) Homepage

    At Politico, roughly a dozen reporters have left in the first half of the year...

    I'm supposed to feel bad because twelve people have left Politico?!! That stupid rag that reports on nothing but Washington insider back-biting? You know, if you lie down with dogs, you get fleas. Tell me when something to feel bad about really happens... you know, like... well, anything else.

  • ...it's gone the way of advances. Christ, who gets an advance these days? We've all but guaranteed ourselves a generation of desperate, sloppy writers who never have time to edit, and pump out as many snappy titles as they can hoping for hits.
  • by maillemaker (924053) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:35PM (#32970020)

    Works for digg.

  • Then the only thing you're qualified to comment on is journalism. There's some call for that, yes, but not much.

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:39PM (#32970096) Homepage

    It's the advertising model that's to blame. And the publishers are the ones who agreed to play this way, so you can point the finger there.

    In the old days, a publication would go to advertisers and say, "We have a brand that's recognized blah-de-blah and we have a daily/weekly/monthly circulation of dee-da-dee, here are some studies that show who our average reader is, this is their purchasing power, do you want to advertise with us or not?" And if you were the New York Times, they would. No further questions asked.

    I come from the world of trade publishing. You know those magazines like Information Week where you can fill out a survey and you get the subscriptions for free? That survey is what's paying for your subscription. That survey is what we take to advertisers to explain to them exactly who our readers are and how advertisers can expect to reach people in IT with purchasing power if they advertise in our pages. These "qualified circulation" magazines can often charge advertisers more than a regular, pay-for-subscription magazine can, because we know more about our readers (assuming the readers tell the truth, but ignoring that is a little game the entire industry agrees to play). Again, it's not about who the advertiser reached with an ad. It's about who they could reach.

    That was the past.

    Now, in a desperate bid to ignite the online advertising market, publishers have made a devil's bargain. Now they agree to turn over reams of Web logs for every page view they serve. The advertiser wants to know: Exactly how many times did you serve our ad? For what content? Who saw it? When was it served on a story that did well and when was it served on a story that nobody saw? How can we stop putting our ad on your boring stories and only put it on the stories that people like?

    That last sentence is the kicker. You can see where it leads. More and more, the publication is compelled to stop running stories that aren't hits and only try to run stories that will be "viral" blockbusters. This pressure is incredibly difficult to ignore, but it's insidious. It erodes the judgment of the editorial department at any publication. It leads to the kind of story-chasing described in TFA.

    And don't think blogs are going to save the industry this time. It's even worse at some unknown blog -- how are you ever going to get your voice heard if nobody visits your blog? So you need a headline. You need a sensational story. You'll do it just this one time, and everybody will keep coming back for all your other scintillating insights that aren't quite so sensational ... sorry, Charlie. It won't work. You'll end up doing it too.

    The only way to fix it is for publishers to turn off the faucet. You want to see an exact breakdown of our Web logs and how your ads are skewing with what story, when and how? Fuck you. That's proprietary information that we don't release to our clients. Suffice it to say that we are a leading publication in our field. Take or leave.

    But how likely is that?

    • +1 insightful, if I had points.
    • by blair1q (305137)

      Someone's missing the point.

      Charge more for the ads that go in the popular articles. Charge less for the ads in the unpopular articles.

      The advertiser will pay for what he can afford.

      As for the fact that ad revenues skew content to grab eyeballs, well, that's the bargain the journalist makes when agreeing to take advertisements.


    • That survey is what's paying for your subscription.

      That's so obvious that I regularly inflate my standing on those surveys. I figure it doesn't hurt me, and if I control a $1M IT budget it means that the magazine that I'm interested in is likely to get more revenue from the advertisers, than if I merely control a $10K budget . I'm not hurt by it, the magazine is probably helped, at least in the short term, and the only one hurt is the advertiser and screw them. If the results in the aggregate become
    • It's the advertising model that's to blame. And the publishers are the ones who agreed to play this way, so you can point the finger there.

      I'd say it's supply and demand that's too blame. Until the journalism profession (or the cult of the personality for news anchor men or anchor women) becomes less sexy and less attractive for young people to want to emulate, there will always be an over-abundance of young people that are willing to work for free (or almost for free) for many years of their lives. And of course, current technologies and current advertising models, are only amplifying this very pressure to begin with, so it's not like my the

    • by tknd (979052)

      Not likely at all. That's like biting the hand that feeds you.

      In my opinion, a better solution is to untie yourself from the requirements of having advertisers as your primary customer and find a different customer. But whom? Slashdot is apparently quick to claim turning your viewers into customers is a failure. [slashdot.org] But I think this is the only reasonable option.

      Consider Consumer Reports for example. They don't have advertisers therefore they can operate with no allegiance to anyone except their viewers/cus

    • When was it served on a story that did well and when was it served on a story that nobody saw? How can we stop putting our ad on your boring stories and only put it on the stories that people like?

      I tend to agree with most of your analysis, but this is the heart of the problem. Cable channel umbrella companies fixed this by telling last-mile providers "if you want ESPN, you have to carry these 18 less-popular channels too." Which, for me, means I have to buy ESPN... on the other hand, the channels I want

  • Why burnout happens (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Robotron23 (832528) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:52PM (#32970274) Homepage

    This article states a truth which has existed for the better part of a generation. University for journalism is closer to an arts course than a science one; you can get through it with a good grade easier relative to other subjects like math or science which require a specific mind to get through and even then can prove challenging and time consuming.

    As such graduates - which were never really 'taught' in a direct subject 100 years ago - emerge from university to a tough jobs market. Often they need work experience, plus a series of publications before say...a local newspaper will take them in as a low-level staff member. Due to constricting markets wages have fallen; graduates here in Britain are known to begin a job on as low a salary £11-12K (about $15-16K) per year with a slight rise when we enter the London Metropolitan borough.

    Assuming you're 22, talented, and have enjoyed much of your degree and the possibilities it presents (perhaps being a young idealist you picture yourself as a roving reporter, or a foreign correspondant in exotic locales etc) - the reality is that you will, for years, have to sit in an office all day long and basically reword stuff coming in on the AP/PA/Reuters wire - all day long. Far cry from your modules which presented you with an adventurous trade. That's perfectly true; you can be sodding Tintin in this business but if you're like that then you aren't young because you wouldn't have the money to travel or do in-depth investigative stuff; not to mention that geniune investigative work is rare in the ink and paper side of the trade.

    After a few months of copying out the wire, bored out of your mind, you've probably lost a lot of passion for the trade. You want out. The rose-tinted specs are off; and you are basically in a job where you are confined all day to an office with a huge workload that never ends because editors want the paper packed to the gills with stuff that's appearing in 10 other rags at minimum. If you have a bullying subeditor and/or editor it can be worse; the scare stories I've heard of breakdowns or young hacks in tears thanks to a dressing down in the ed's office are too numerous to all be fabrication.

    I saw this crap early on, and was able to take up other work to supplement my freelancing which is a labour of love. I was saying to a Guardian journo the other day...I smile whilst out getting a story in the July sunshine and cool breeze, the greenery and ordinary folks going about their day - and then contrast it to vigil at the PA wire, lukewarm coffee and petty office politics that haunt young 'churnalists' whose talent is squandered under a constant flow of drudgery.

    Would I trade my even-lower paid freelance job for £12 grand per year in the local press doing that? Not in this life.

  • by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @05:08PM (#32970510) Journal

    Today I've had to reread sentences 4 or 5 times to figure them out, and all but one has turned out to say what it means, albeit in a roundabout way. The rest were missing words, used the wrong word in the wrong place, or denotated the opposite of the author's connotation.

    This is in maybe 8 or 10 different articles from different authors.

    Editors are nonexistent, and authors have become incredibly sloppy and indifferent.

    The headline has become the content, and the reward for clicking on it is a reduction in your knowledge of the subject...

  • Let's face it, news and journalism today is not about disseminating information, it's about entertainment. But ultimately the problems journalists are facing are no different than what anyone else has experienced. Many people enter the working world with plenty of idealism and ambition. Unfortunately reality doesn't work as they had hoped and it turns out people have to work a lot hard than they had expected to get ahead. Sometimes things just aren't fair.

    I'd say that many journalists probably start out wit

  • With very few exception the people that write for the media these days aren't journalists. At best they are writers that ask a few questions now an then. They no longer have the know how to put a story together and investigate in even the slightest. If a story doesn't come to them prepackaged it doesn't get covered.

    This is why they get so upset and act like a cover up has occurred when a story breaks and they haven't already been told about it at a White house press conference. They assume it is someones
  • You Don't Say? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rothic (596907)

    Young journalists once dreamed of trotting the globe in pursuit of a story, but the NY Times now reports that instead many are working online shackled to their computers

    Young enthusiastic entry level workers daydream about doing fabulous and exciting things at their employers' expense, but find out that they're actually supposed to just produce for said employer in whatever way is necessary in return for a paycheck? This is amazing news.

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