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Explaining the Lack of Quality Journalism In the Internet Age ( 311

schnell writes: While many lament the seeming lack of quality, in-depth journalism today, a Gawker article argues that the inescapable problem is that you need a paying (in some form) audience (of a large enough size) to do it. There are plenty of free "news" sources to be found online, especially blogs simply regurgitating and putting a spin on wire news reports. But as the article notes, "The audience for quality prestige content is small. Even smaller than the actual output of quality prestige content, which itself is smaller than most media outlets like to imagine." Even highly respected news sources like the New York Times are resorting to wine clubs, and the Washington Post is giving free subscriptions to Amazon Prime members to drive more corporate synergy and revenue. Rich parent companies are giving up on boutique, high-quality, niche journalism projects like ESPN's Grantland and Al Jazeera America because there simply aren't enough TV viewers/online ad clickers to pay the bills. So how do we reconcile our collectively-stated desire for high quality journalism with our (seeming) collective unwillingness to pay for it?
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Explaining the Lack of Quality Journalism In the Internet Age

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  • Pot, meet kettle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2016 @01:30PM (#51308359)

    While many lament the seeming lack of quality, in-depth journalism today, a Gawker article

    Ok, stopped reading here.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2016 @01:48PM (#51308545)

      The rise of "social justice" has meant that good journalism is deemed "intolerant", "bigoted", "racist", "sexist", "homophobic", "transphobic", and any number of similar false accusations.

      Take what's happening in Europe right now. We see an influx of young men, many of them clearly with violence and rape on their minds (as we've seen in Cologne, Paris, and other cities), entering Europe illegally. Yet despite this being a form of an invasion by hostile foreign invaders, we never see it described as such in the media. Instead, they try to sugarcoat the reality by using terms like "migrants" or "refugees", because not doing so would result in these media outlets getting attacked by the "social justice" crowd.

      We see it happening in America, too. Lately there have been a small number of cases of black youth violently attacking police officers, typically after being confronted for some crime these youth had committed, and then the police officers do the only reasonable thing and defend themselves using their guns. Not wanting to be falsely accused of being "racist" by the "social justice" supporters, the media ends up putting more focus on blaming the police officers, and they only briefly, if even at all, mention how the youth were fully responsible for what happened.

      The media should start to report on the whole "social justice" situation itself. This would help free them from the shackles that "social justice" currently imposes on the media. The media should make it more widely known that the "social justice" community is very loud, yet actually quite small. It's mostly made up of failed academics, angry lesbians and transsexuals, and weak white men who feel guilty about incidents that happened decades or centuries before they were even born. Emphasis should be put on their hypocrisy, and how their tactics are an extreme form of the bullying that they claim to despise.

      When they're seen for the failures that they are, the "social justice" community starts to look like a total joke, and the media won't have to worry about putting politically correct twists on stories. They can just go back to reporting the facts, even if it makes a small number of "social justice" folk feel "offended".

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2016 @02:02PM (#51308649)

        What is it with SlashDot lately, with all these right-wing idiots coming in, derping their right-wing talking points? Go away please.

        • What's with Slashdot itself posting left-wing propaganda pieces?

      • by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @02:56PM (#51309187)

        Take what's happening in Europe right now. We see an influx of young men, many of them clearly with violence and rape on their minds (as we've seen in Cologne, Paris, and other cities), entering Europe illegally. Yet despite this being a form of an invasion by hostile foreign invaders, we never see it described as such in the media. Instead, they try to sugarcoat the reality by using terms like "migrants" or "refugees", because not doing so would result in these media outlets getting attacked by the "social justice" crowd.

        Oversimplify much? I mean, I get it, nuance is pretty much beyond you, but jeezuz... Do you really have only a brush that paints entire groups of people with the color you chose? You don't consider it even remotely possible that the vast majority of Syrian refugees a fleeing for their fucking lives?

        Let's be clear, Middle Eastern culture, in general, has a long way to go when it comes to gender issues. In that culture, unescorted women are fair game for just about anything. In Germany, such an attitude is unacceptable and is, IMO, grounds for tossing their ignorant, mysoginistic asses back on a boat. But to suggest that every single immigrant is possessed of such attitudes and incapable of change is absurd.

        We see it happening in America, too. Lately there have been a small number of cases of black youth violently attacking police officers, typically after being confronted for some crime these youth had committed, and then the police officers do the only reasonable thing and defend themselves using their guns. Not wanting to be falsely accused of being "racist" by the "social justice" supporters

        Generalize much? After a career in emergency services that spanned three decades, I probably have more respect and sympathy for law enforcement than most, and I will be the first to say that pointing a gun, even a convincing replica, at a cop is a good way to get yourself shot. Race has nothing to do with that. On the other hand, the video footage in some of these cases makes it pretty fucking clear that there are some bad cops out there.

      • We see an influx of young men, many of them clearly with violence and rape on their minds (as we've seen in Cologne, Paris, and other cities), entering Europe illegally.

        Cologne, yes. Paris, what? I thought the Paris attackers were French and Belgian nationals. Do you have some proprietary information that hasn't been released in the media, or are you falsely claiming that these are "hostile foreign invaders"?

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        Oh, man, I should've kept reading before submitting my earlier comment.

        Lately there have been a small number of cases of black youth violently attacking police officers, typically after being confronted for some crime these youth had committed, and then the police officers do the only reasonable thing and defend themselves using their guns.

        Yes, the only reasonable thing for a well-trained law enforcement officer to do when violently attacked by unarmed black youth is to shoot them. After all, policing isn't supposed to be a dangerous job, so we can't expect police officers to endure any level of danger, no matter how insignificant. Any threat to an officer, no matter how minor, must be met with gunfire. This is, after all, "the only reasonable thing" to do.

        In 2015, 129

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        What's with the scare quotes? Social justice is the notion that everyone in a society deserves justice. Pretty simple really. I think refugees deserve justice. I think rape victims deserve justice. I think hedge fund managers deserve justice. I think transsexuals deserve justice. The list goes on. You do what is right in your society, and your society should do right by you. Even if you do wrong, you still deserve justice (it just might be bad for you).

        What would you like to call people fleeing Syria becaus

      • by XXongo ( 3986865 )

        We see it happening in America, too. Lately there have been a small number of cases of black youth violently attacking police officers, typically after being confronted for some crime these youth had committed, and then the police officers do the only reasonable thing and defend themselves using their guns. Not wanting to be falsely accused of being "racist" by the "social justice" supporters

        The recent outrage is about police shooting unarmed black youths. In many cases, shooting them in the back.

        Here's the video of the one in Chicago that everybody's upset about. As you can see, the teenager was shot in the back while running AWAY from the police. He was unarmed. []

        Here's another one: the guy had a gun... but the police had already taken it away and had him face down on the ground. Then shot him when he was face down on the ground and unresisting:
        http://ww []

    • Re:Pot, meet kettle (Score:4, Informative)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @02:34PM (#51308943)

      While many lament the seeming lack of quality, in-depth journalism today, a Gawker article

      Ok, stopped reading here.

      In defense of Gawker: TFA doesn't say what the summary says it says. TFA explains why journalism is mostly garbage. It does NOT say, as the summary claims, that the problem is getting worse, and journalism was once better than it is today. Journalism has always been 90% crap (Sturgeon's Law []). In decades past, journalists almost missed Watergate, and the Monica Lewinski scanal was first reported by tabloids. The mainstream media was too busy reporting on the millions of abused and murdered children by Satanic Ritual Abuse []. Only years later, after many lives were ruined by false accusations, did it become clear that the actual number of SRA victims was zero. Crappy journalism is nothing new.

    • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @02:36PM (#51308957) Journal

      Ok, stopped reading here.

      Oh, you missed the part where the answer was "give Gawker more money so we don't go bankrupt".

      The fall in journalistic quality is easy to blame on "SJW!", but that's just a symptom. The larger problem is the abandonment of any pretense of objectivity or journalistic integrity by all the mainstream outlets. For most, any scandal involving a Democrat "isn't newsworthy" or "is a local story" or if the story won't die it can be dismissed as a GOP hit job. Swap that for Fox and the rest.

      Stories that "carry the desired narrative" are run without even the thinnest shred of editorial fact-checking, while stories that oppose the narrative are simply buried. This was particularly egregious during the Iraq War, when for example a blatantly-Photoshopped image of a burning hospital (the smoke from a nearby building that was hit was just copy-pasted to make the hospital look like is was burning too) was published by AP and run by a great number of newspapers. Even a glance at the image showed it to be fake - you can't just duplicate smoke for goodness sake - but everyone ran it because everyone was against the US being there, and wanted us to be the villains.

      "Truthiness" has replaced truth in journalism, and it's not SJWs or the left or Fox, it's everyone. Turns out people won't pay much for low-quality fiction, and revenue is tanking everywhere. It's not "the internet", it's the "politics first" approach. There's way more entertaining fiction out there, with way better special effects than poorly-Photoshopped images.

    • by XXongo ( 3986865 )

      While many lament the seeming lack of quality, in-depth journalism today, a Gawker article

      Ok, stopped reading here. []

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @02:53PM (#51309153) Homepage

      Journalism jumped the shark long before they could blame the Internet for their problems. The ability to do your own fact checking and route around your local news outlet just makes it easier to recognize bullshit and the editor's pet political agenda for what it is.

    • Talk about false premise....
  • We never had it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @01:31PM (#51308375) Homepage Journal
    We never had quality journalism in the first place. People look at history through rose colored glasses, yet journalists have been lying to the people for years.
    • by wizkid ( 13692 )

      Yep. The mainstream journalistic sources are garbage. NYT, forbes etc are so influenced by corporate management that anything they write is slanted to their views. They go for sensationalism and blow off little things like facts.

      • by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @02:11PM (#51308725)

        Do think this is always true, and if so, how do you explain something like the NY Times publication of the Pentagon Papers or the Washington Post investigation into Watergate?

        In both of those cases, the paper went heavily against establishment interests, which would presumably mean for the most part, corporate interests, too.

        • Those two cases were because the media disliked Nixon (for good reason). Nixon was a scumbag. The Pentagon Papers and Watergate were closely linked. We never really got the full story from the media on that.
        • The same way I explain the NY Times printing stories, and getting the Pulitzer Prize for them, proclaiming that the Ukrainian Famine was not happening...because it fit with the agenda they were promoting.
      • Well we know that. It has been the policy of the NY Times, The Guardian, and even The Economist to not use the serial comma. All English style guides recommend use of the serial comma (with inadequate discussion); yet traditionally-print publications object to its use. This hands down from over a century ago, when typesetting all those extra commas was significantly expensive in aggregate over thousands or millions of papers. They threw out good writing in favor of saving pennies.

        You find it surprisi

        • Congratulations!
          You've either made the most pitch-perfect Mark-Twain-esque parody of a declinist argument I've seen in 15+ years of reading Slashdot, or one of the most crazy. The fact I just can't tell which is testament to your near-genius.

        • The serial comma is of course also known as the "Oxford comma" because Oxford, unlike other British style guides, said it should be used. Now, Oxford says it normally should NOT be used:

          University of Oxford Public Affairs Directorate Writing and Style Guide:
          Note that there is generally no comma between the penultimate item and 'and'/'or' â" this is sometimes referred to as the 'Oxford comma'

          One reason for not using it is apparent in the following dedication:
          To my mother, Ayn Rand, and God.
          With the com

    • Ridiculous. Having lots of bad journalism is not the same as having no quality journalism. We've always had quality journalism, and we still do, just less and less because people are decreasingly willing to pay.

      • Only if you consider NYT and WP to be quality journalism. I sure don't. The NYT and WP are the at same quality level as they always have been. The fact that the poster says "ESPN Grantland" is an example of "quality journalism" is very telling.
      • by JWW ( 79176 )

        You are making the grand assumption that people who blog about the news and events are incapable of doing so effectively without charging a fee.

        The mainstream journalism outlets (how am I including gawker in that? ugh) want you to believe that because some blogs are bad at journalism that all blogs must be ignored.

    • This. The phrase "if it bleeds it leads" existed long before the Internet.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )

      I mostly agree with what you say - "quality" journalism really means carefully researched and well written, but usually still one sided. NYT and NPR are the most obvious examples of this.

      In the past people had to pay for journalism by buying newspapers, magazines, or watching/listening to advertising, so the outlets that marketed themselves as "quality" had it easier - the price was essentially the same for consumers whether the journalism appeared good or bad. Today the choice is free for rehashed wire se

      • People are choosing to not pay for digital content. There's a difference. Digital content is not valuable to the consumer than print content, i.e., newspaper. The key is local news. People want local reporting. People will pay for local reporting.
    • Re:We never had it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by castionsosa ( 4391635 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @02:16PM (#51308759)

      There are ways to have quality journalism... but it starts with having people that are trusted to actually do fair and accurate reporting as opposed to the usual stuff we encounter.

      This isn't going to be solved by a business. Want good news, we will have to move to a decentralized structure, similar to PGP's reputation, and in some ways, similar to Slashdot's moderation system.

      First, articles would be signed by their maker. This can be a nym or real name, poster's choice.
      Second, there would be people who sign that the person's content is up to par, and this would be a positive or negative value, rating the person (not the article.)
      Third, someone reading it can place their trust in the second set of parties. As said in a previous Slashdot posting, the trust level would be a floating point value from 0 to 1, where 0 means the trust is ignored, a 1 means it is heeded.

      This way, anyone can post, but in general, it would allow people to have a set of trusted article reviewers, and filter out the signal from the noise fairly easily. Since there is no single point of failure, it would be resistant from various attack methods.

      As for a method of moving articles, why not just go back to a NNTP-like protocol, store, forward, and expire when disk space allocated hits a high water mark. Any modifications to the articles posted would be immediately detected by a broken signature. For signatures and reputation, OpenPGP packets can easily handle this.

      tl;dr, decentralize things, have multiple parties vet news article writers in a secure fashion.

    • Cleaning out my parent's house, I recently found a box with a local newspaper (I think St. Louis, MO) from 1962 that would disagree with you.
    • We never had quality journalism in the first place. People look at history through rose colored glasses, yet journalists have been lying to the people for years.

      Maybe... and then again, maybe not.

      Consider 60 minutes: a news journal that's gone on since 1968. They post interesting in-depth fluff pieces as filler, punctuated by the occasional investigative journalism. I think the model there is to use the fluff pieces to support the investigations.

      Then there's a couple of notable cases of investigative journalism, such as the pentagon papers or watergate.

      Then there's things like "Last Week Tonight", which attempts to be a comedy show, but appears to have high journal

      • 60 Minutes is a perfect example. A good example of BAD journalism. With the crap Benghazi "investigation" that turned out to be 100% false, and the NSA "investigation", I would rather get my news from a random blog.
    • Re:We never had it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @03:18PM (#51309377) Homepage Journal

      Like most generalizations, that's an exaggeration. I know because I'm almost 60 years old now, and I actually remember the way things used to be, and not with rose-colored glasses. Most things are way better than they used to be, but journalism isn't one of those things.

      Journalism were never perfect; like any human institution it had its faults and biases. But it used to work far, far better than it does today. Take science reporting; if you lived in a major-ish city the leading newspaper in your town probably had a reporter dedicated to covering science topics -- sometimes more than one (thanks, Sputnik!). When there wasn't a major story like the moon landing those reporters churned out weekly science supplements.

      We can actually measure the declinein dedicated science reporting by counting the number of newspapers with weekly science supplements. According to the Columbia Journalism Review in 1989 95 American newspapers had science supplements. By 2008 that had dropped to 35, and as of 2013 there were only 19 science supplements left. So when you have a science related story like climate change, or Ebola, the people the public turns to for information on those things have no more understanding of science or mathematics than they do.

      There have been similar measurable declines in foreign affairs coverage as well, and while relatively more people are getting news from non-print media like TV those news sources have been increasingly moving to cheap, profitable, but less informative opinion "journalism".

      Now there are some bright spots as well, it's not all doom and gloom. I think some of the better infotainment shows like The Daily Show or Last Week Tonight are tremendous assets, taking the place of news/opinion magazines for younger people today and in often doing that pretty well. I think their obvious snarkiness is actually less dangerous than the implicit biases of journalism back in the day. But there's no substitute for wearing out shoe leather tracking down facts, something that's in decline across the board.

      • If you want to get science reporting, then go to a source that provides science reporting. Like It is funny that you bring up science reporting, since science reporting has definitely improved drastically. You just don't have to read it from a journalist who may not know anything about actual science.
    • Re:We never had it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by HiThere ( 15173 ) <{ten.knilhtrae} {ta} {nsxihselrahc}> on Friday January 15, 2016 @03:25PM (#51309417)

      It's true that the garbage journalism has always heavily outweighed the quality journalism. It's also true that there have been periods in the past that were either worse or nearly as bad as the current state of events.

      OTOH, it's also true that quality journalism is usually only recognized retrospectively. Some exceptions are "the muckrakers", like Upton Sinclair (The Jungle) and, at a much later date, Racheal Carlson (Silent Spring). Currently there seems to be almost no memory of prior quality journalism, which *is* a change that is probably attributable to a combination of TV and the Internet. When people are drowning in information, they tend to set their filters too tight, so weak signals are lost.

      But I *don't* think it's a matter of economics. I think it's a matter of "it's easier to generate garbage than quality" and "information overload". When people were hungry for news they not only tended to trust it more, they tended to think about it more. This doesn't happen when you're checking your e-mail every 5 minutes. (Or twitter, or your favorite noisy media channel.)

    • Even in print journalism, the quality difference between 30 years ago and today is huge. Today's newspapers would have been yesterday's tabloids, in most local markets.

      The problem is basic human nature. Before people needed some basic facts about life:

      - Weather
      - Sports results
      - Local events
      - Job listings
      - Legal announcements
      - General news about the world

      For historical reasons, these came to be gathered together in one place, the newspaper, about which several good social histories have been written. But as

    • Exactly - the lack of quality today is just a different sort than it was yesterday.

      Yesterday: The barrier to entry in news was HUGE. Press barons like William Randolph Hearst had tremendous influence on the public perception of things because they owned all of the news outlets. Articles were highly-polished, but they consisted almost solely of what the oligarchy wanted the public to know. Small press outlets attempted to operate, but were often stomped out by the press barons.

      Today: The barrier to entry

  • I think despite our best efforts to track down the issue, be it money or advertiser influence or lack of truly independent editorial staff, one thing remains true. The answer to a lack of quality journalism in the internet age should always and forever be directly attributed solely to Timmy.

    now let us all turn our heads and cast our neverending gaze of shame and distrust upon him.
  • by skovnymfe ( 1671822 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @01:35PM (#51308413)

    Who cast the first stone? Did people stop reading newspapers because they were becoming shit filled with advertisements and no content, or did the newspapers become shit filled with advertisements and no content because people stopped reading them?

    The trend I've observed was that people used to buy newspapers, but then free newspapers, and later online newspapers, filled with ads and ADHD-quality content started becoming a thing, and they rather quickly eliminated their competition, or at the very least forced the competition to fight on their level, which in the end hasn't turned out well for anyone.

    • Historically, in the USA the news was subsidized by the government to the tune of about 3% of the GDP (if I recall correctly, it was almost half of what we spend on Social Security today) and that wasn't cut off until Lincoln ( due to the civil war. )

      The primary argument for public libraries and public schooling was that citizens of a democracy must be competent enough to operate it. Same goes for the press. All three are still not enough to maintain competent citizenry.

      Today, Americans are almost totally

      • I'm honestly curious. If the USA is dead, then what will replace it? There are 300+ million people within the borders of the current USA. The land and the people aren't going anywhere. Are you imagining the USA will be divided up between Mexico and Canada? Maybe some oversees power will invade and make the USA a colony? Maybe there will be a military coup? Maybe a civil war? Maybe some other sort of internal rebellion that will result in a new form of government? Maybe you don't really mean the end of the s

  • Cheap & Lazy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2016 @01:37PM (#51308425)

    Real journalism is hard work. Hard work costs money. People found out that they could put up blogs like Gawker, HuffPo, Tmblr, and Slashdot where they could copy free stuff for use as clickbait. It cost them little or nothing and the clicks/ads made them rich.

    Everyone else tried to follow that model. Now there are few real journalists and even fewer good investigative journalists, so we're fed a contrant stream of click bait like Kim Kardashian's ass.

  • by Geste ( 527302 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @01:38PM (#51308451)
    This recent book (The Internet is Not the Answer) by Andrew Keen covers this area -- call it "the death of journalism" -- pretty well. A very good, but very sad, read.
  • NYC has some tabloids, but decades ago there were a lot more of them around the USA. people would buy two newspapers a day and the tabloids would compete with the more outrageous covers to get a sale. Same with blogs. take some story someone wrote, put a click bait spin and title on it and then post the links around the internet and share them out on social media. if you follow tech then you know all about BGR and Ars Technica and the crap they post
  • by captaindomon ( 870655 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @01:38PM (#51308459)
    People aren't willing to pay for it, because they don't really want it. It was subsidized as a sort of "tax" on people paying for access to news, i.e. the newspaper used some of it's revenues for in-depth articles that only a tiny portion of its reader base actually read. Now that news is pretty much free across the board, nobody wants to pay to read twenty pages of someone else's opinion, especially with the plethora of other entertainment out there. They'd rather watch a cable news anchor argue about it for twenty minutes with a guest instead.
  • I'm perfectly happy to pay writers for well-researched well-written content. I'm not happy paying an aggregator for access to what they think is good writing. Good writers are rare; the internet has made aggregation cheap and easy, with the expected outcome that there are lots of terrible aggregation sites out there.
  • Obvious anwer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bugler412 ( 2610815 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @01:46PM (#51308533)
    online advertising business models cannot support the salaries and infrastructure of a proper formal news organization, therefore the quality drops to a level that is supportable by the business.
    • online advertising business models cannot support the salaries and infrastructure of a proper formal news organization, therefore the quality drops to a level that is supportable by the business.

      For a while I thought that it was not about the story, it was about the group discussion/posts. That used to be the slashdot success for me. But that model has degraded also. Sad to say.

  • The first 15 minutes explain everything. The average person is not interested in a thought provoking article on a politicians policy on government spending, details on a new medical procedure, or common sense advice on how to eat better. They want to know who the politician slept with (and what techniques they used), how someones plastic surgery went horribly wrong so they look like John Merrick, or what drug they can take to lose weight while stuffing their faces with fast food and Ding Dongs. (Ding Don
    • Dumbing down []is the deliberate oversimplification of intellectual content within education, literature, cinema, news, and culture in order to relate to those unable to assimilate more sophisticated information.

      This has happened to many internet websites also. Especially in the last 8 years or so that I've noticed.

  • Gawker (Score:4, Informative)

    by martinux ( 1742570 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @01:59PM (#51308623)

    Archive link for those who prefer not to support the reprehensible Gawker: []

    IMHO Gawker is an absolutely vile clickbait machine that portrays itself as a progressive voice while selling outrage.
    It undermines what I consider valid, socially responsible goals by trivialising most of them, generating needless conflict by labelling "bad" people and maintaining a ludicrous left-wing good, right-wing evil narrative. It produces propaganda and hatred for cash.

    Nick Denton - the CEO of Gawker - has admitted that the company has a severe empathy problem and tried to relaunch it: [] []

    The problem with journalism is not that one needs an audience, the problem with journalism is that factual reporting is no longer the main goal. Truth is secondary to page-views. Nolan suggests that people are the problem because they won't pay for factual material, [] demonstrates that one can successfully run a publication that focuses on the pursuit and publication of truth (with a healthy injection of humour).

    TFA is an attempt to blame absolutely shitty "journalism" on the audience, what in fact is happening is that those of us who do care about quality journalism recognise Gawker for what it is and don't give it ad-revenue or page-impressions.

  • by drew_kime ( 303965 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @02:03PM (#51308657) Journal

    Crime is worse than it's ever been! Kids can't walk to school safely these days!

    Except not, and we all know that. We just talked about it earlier this week []. As media became national, then international, they started reporting every little thing that happened as though we should care, and maybe we've all started to realize that we don't actually give a shit what's happening in East Bumfuckistan.

    In my perfect world if the story is important - and it better be, else why are you wasting my time telling me about it - then take the time to explain why I should care. "Because we have adorable photos of the missing girl" doesn't count.

    John Oliver takes on serious issues on a weekly basis and gets ratings doing it. What he doesn't do is pander to fear-mongering and scare tactics, which just get old. Can someone other than Comedy Central please start doing this?

  • by Andy Smith ( 55346 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @02:08PM (#51308683)

    Will newspapers die? Hopefully not.
    Are they dying right now? Yes.

    Or, more accurately, they're being killed from within. What you have to remember is that newspapers aren't run by journalists, they're run by managers and salesmen who don't seem to understand their target market (readers) or their product (quality reporting). They don't seem to look further than the next issue -- if that hits the streets then great, job done. Who cares how it's achieved.

    Here in the UK, so many quality journalists and photographers are being let go because managers see staff as an expendable resource. Got 20 journalists working their arses off to produce the paper? Cool, sack 10 of them and use agency copy. The public will never notice, right? That's £200,000 saved per year. When the readership halves because of rubbish content, we'll dream up some other excuse to explain that away. And then we'll sack more staff. Never the managers. They're not expendable. Always the journalists.

    I'll give you an insight in to where the power lies at newspapers. About 2 years ago I was working at a great bi-weekly city newspaper. We were working on a story for the next day's paper and I went over to talk to the news editor. He told me that there might not be space to run the story anymore, because four news pages had been dropped. Why? Because the paper liked to have a 50/50 split between editorial and adverts. The ad sales team had sold a full four pages less adverts than they were meant to. So to make everything look right with the upper management, the manager of the ad sales team simply had four news pages dropped.

    It wasn't like we were short-staffed that week or there had been a shortage of stories. The news was written, the photos had been taken, the pages were being made up. And four pages were wiped out, just like that, to make one sales guy look good.

    Ask anyone who works in newspapers if they've ever heard of the editorial team having ad pages dropped to make space for news. Go on, have a guess how often that happens.

    tl;dr: Newspaper sales are dropping. Managers try to save money by making the newspapers worse. Sales drop further. And so on.

  • When al jazeera america started They geoblocked the US from the al jazeera english online stream.

    So yeah I'm rather glad that it's gone It means we will get access to the main stream again. Instead of watered down news run through american censors.

  • by mattwarden ( 699984 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @02:13PM (#51308739)

    Have you ever tried in-depth quality journalism? Not in my lifetime. Maybe you can blame the readers. Or maybe journalism lost value when it lost its methodology of removing the authors' own biases as much as possible. Why would I want to pay money to read some random author's opinion? I don't even know this person. I would, however, pay money to read investigative journalism. Journalists from the 40 years may need to google that term to know what I mean.

  • "... lack of quality ..."

    Quality is like temperature. Everything has it. It can be either high or low, but everything has it.

  • by Thyamine ( 531612 ) <thyamine.ofdragons@com> on Friday January 15, 2016 @02:23PM (#51308823) Homepage Journal
    I love the random news sites/aggregators I visit, and I use ad blockers, but we are the problem. I don't pay for any of the sites I visit, I don't donate money to them, and I get annoyed with bad/aggressive ads, and worry about malware, so I use ad blockers. This means that sites I visit are not generating revenue. Most of us here probably do the same thing. So that means they have less money to do _any_ journalism let alone good journalism.

    There are the hardcore people who feel everything should be free, but I doubt they go to work and do their job for free. Now, some random person blogging for fun, yes I get annoyed when they have ads all over the place, and the click-bait sites that put every sentence on a different page. Those are their own categories. But nothing is going to change until all we have is complete crap. Then someone will start charging and it will be seen as an innovation. People will say, "amazing! they charge us money and we get quality things!" but we aren't there yet. We have to hit bottom, or someone has to come up with an actual way to allow the give and take that is fair and non-obtrusive.
  • Journalists report on things they've observed first hand.

    Just because 100,000 partisan gossips refer to each other as journalists and publish words that have been strung into paragraphs doesn't make what they do journalism.

    Ideal journalism is devoid of opinions, devoid of conclusions. It informs without attempting to lead the reader towards a value judgement, allowing us to make better decisions.

    Journalism is dead, and it's the likes of Gawker that killed it in the first place. They put it right in their

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @02:34PM (#51308941)

    I think it's a two-fold problem:

    1. To quote The Matrix, "The problem is choice." There are tons and tons of choices for news services these days, and they're of varying quality. By quality, I'm referring to well-researched reporting mostly sticking to the facts (I'm well aware that all news sources have some bias.) Quality costs money. You have to pay for an NYT subscription to keep their journalists writing, the BBC has to collect TV license fees to run World Service, and the major news channels need to be paid by advertisers. By nature, people are cheap and gravitate to "free" services. Online, that means random blogger dudes paying the bills using Google ad revenue, or targeted news sites that have an obvious agenda and may be funded by someone without the best of intentions. Random blogger dudes don't have the resources to do actual investigative journalism, i.e. exposing corruption or keeping officials honest. Outside groups have an interest in selling people on their way of thinking, so the bias that's there anyway gets magnified many times over in favor of that group's POV.

    2. This leads to Internet journalism becoming a sort of echo chamber for some people. Someone who's conservative isn't going to read the Huffington Post, no matter what they say. A liberal wouldn't read the Drudge Report. This is magnified _again_ by social media honing in on your preferences and likes, and only presenting you content that you would personally be interested in. You may think you're immune to this, but the unfortunate fact is that the Public writ large is not very bright, and many are very influenced by targeted news. (Mainstream examples: MSNBC, Fox News, etc.)

    3. Finally, there's the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory -- and yes, I never thought I'd ever reference this in a post. People love to tout how awful SJWs are and how stifling political correctness is, but frankly there is a lot less civil discourse of any kind these days. People who make the most bombastic statements are the ones who are listened to. People aren't nice because nice doesn't get noticed in all the chaos. Look at Trump -- agree or disagree with his agenda, but he gets attention because he's loud, angry, and taps into the loud angry conservative mindset. Even the mainstream Republicans are trying to keep things somewhat civil, but people gravitate towards the angriest most outrageous voices.

    It's really too bad, because I've been feeling lately like we might as well just pack it in and establish a monarchy to keep order. When people aren't educated in politics, and can't see the compromises that are required to run a civil society that doesn't end up eating itself alive, the only thing to do is just take the decisions out of the hands of the common man. I don't think it should happen, but I think it could if it gets bad enough!

    • because I've been feeling lately like we might as well just pack it in and establish a monarchy to keep order

      As long as I'm the monarch, I'm cool with that.

  • by sciengin ( 4278027 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @02:38PM (#51308979)

    Seriously this has to be a joke.
    Gawker of all places.
    Gawker who got scolded by the FTC for not even bothering to separate paid advertising from actual articles.
    Gawker who doxed all gun owners in new york.
    Gawker whose editor once proclaimed that "Nerds should be bullied into submission". (Sam Bidle)
    Gawker who was penalized and mentioned by name by Google when explained their new "fact based algorithm" and its benefits.
    Gawker who knowingly stole photographs from an amateur and explained to her that she should be happy that her photos were deemed worthy of Gawker.
    Gawker who is currently being sued by Hulk Hogan for the leak of his sex tape, by their interns for refusing to pay them anything yet working them like regular employees.(You can read more about the unpaid interns with the hashtag #Fairpay I am told, unfortunately I am not familiar with twitter)
    Gawker who is set up using multiple shell companies in New-York, Hungary and the Caymans to avoid all and any taxes.
    Gawker who criticized "Charlie Hebdo" immediately after 10 of the employees there were murdered by terrorists with an article titled "How much did we need this blasphemy?"
      And of course tons of "Quality" article such as "If you dont want to watch a fish suck a dick, here is a description", "Is the new york post edited by a Bigoted Drunk who fucks pigs?" and lastly "Born this way: Sympathy and Science for those who want to have sex with children".
    That is probably only the tip of the iceberg.

    Gawker should not be read, linked to or even mentioned in any way or form.

  • Just like technology has replaced many factory jobs with automation and robotics, I am hoping that journalism by automated software will partially replace most human journalist, the remaining will have to retrain and find new careers like the rest of us.

  • Summary: people aren't willing to pay for quality journalism because there's so much lower-quality journalism around that's free.

    If nobody is willing to pay for it, it doesn't happen.

  • It's possible that journalists are wrong when they decide what makes good journalism and the public is right.
    • ah, there's a paradox hidden in there. Journalists are not one homogenous mass. A journalist is essentially anyone who condenses and reports information (hopefully facts) to others. If you got excited about a given issue (oh, say, journalistic ethics) and put some effort into researching it and shared wha you learned, you'd become a journalist.

      Isn't that a wonderful thing? The internet means it's available to all of us to be both citizen journalists and citizen politicians - politicians are simply people wh

  • Why are there a few high-quality news sources still around while a number of others have come and gone? Because the fairly small audience remembers and depends on those long-lived sources. Staying power is all-important. The longer you stay the more solid and loyal the audience. (Though SlashDot is obviously not paying for investigative journalism) why am I here and not in a dozen other forums with similar content? Because this one has been around a long time and hasn't changed all that much over the years

  • by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @03:20PM (#51309383)

    The history of "Quality Journalism" is filled with well compensated hucksters like Walter Duranty, polluting the world with fictions and lies. When you pay journalists celebrity wages you get celebrity journalists promulgating the views of their powerful allies.

    Do not want. We're no worse off with our contemporary "journalism" and we may indeed be better.

  • by grinob ( 645674 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @03:30PM (#51309459)

    In france, there is a successful new (well, created in 2008) completely independent news source called mediapart. It only has a website and does *not* have a printed version and runs absolutely no ads.

    How do they do it? Well, they somehow managed to get 112,000 paying subscribers on board so far who pay 9 Euros per month.

    It really shows that they are independent in the sense that they have unearthed several scoops in the last few years that have shaken the French establishment.

    Amongst others for example, they have nailed France's Minister for the Budget, Jerome Cahuzac, in a fiscal fraud case. You got to laugh at the irony...

  • Mostly it's because of laziness in writing, and a lack of actually wanting to be impartial, because there's apparently no money in that any more. It's required to be slanted one way or another, in order to make enough money to keep going. They just aren't wearing sponsor patches, like race car drivers do.

  • People watched the weather channel when it covered the weather. When they stopped covering the weather and just showed movies, people stopped watching. So to recap when it had quality content people tuned in, when it had crap content people tuned out.

    So no, people did not demand the crap content. It's amazing how millennials talk out of their ass so much.
  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @03:52PM (#51309637)
    I did work for a newspaper chain around 1998. The guy was out buying one newspaper after another and what he wanted to do was to reduce his AP costs. The idea was that all the articles put into any one of his newspapers would be readily available to all the others; basically his own internal AP.

    Without going into all the details what every one of his ideas were about was to fill the pages with crap for the lowest cost possible to pay back the huge money he had borrowed to buy up all these newspapers.

    To a guy like this the whole idea of ethics in journalism and whatnot was complete crap. Also if the local news staff were to really mount a protest he could always shut down one newspaper as a warning to the others. Also since his company was a news machine it was no big deal to shut down the Metro Times and open up the Times Metro in the local business park.

    One effect of this was that, while newspapers have often been beholden to certain interests, his newspapers became owned by many of them. His political views were the only political views, the real-estate and car sales advertisers wouldn't tolerate any investigative journalism into their practices. My favourite was that a local house inspector with an engineering degree and a reputation for being the best was not able to advertise in any of the traditional media. It was quite simple, take his tiny ad, lose our steady firehose of ads.

    Then you get articles where the real-estate market is in freefall and the newspaper will have a near daily article saying that it is levelling out and that you are stupid if you don't buy now at the very bottom. Then the next month's numbers will come out and it is just worse, yet they will print the same advice.

    Then there is this stream of news telling us what we should think. Often this is way way way to the left. I am not advocating Fox news (way way way to the right) but it is all the most PC crap imaginable. This whole new crap about micro aggressions. WTF.

    So we now have this thing called the internet where we can choose our news sources. If we start to suspect they are shilling or lying then we move on to the 1 million other choices.

    Personally, where I suspect this is going to end is that individual investigative journalists are going to realize that while there isn't enough money to run a newsroom, that if they are really good that there is enough money to keep them sustained as they do what they love. In the end I also suspect that someone is going to start to gather these individuals into a central repository so that any consumer will have a steady menu of interesting stories. I am not talking about a huffpo type crap where they keep all the cookies, but something more like an Uber for news. (yes I went with that one). I can just see its mission statement, "No opinions, just journalism."
  • by crbowman ( 7970 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @03:56PM (#51309675) Homepage

    I'll tell you why I don't pay for quality journalism: I don't see any of it. Even when I read a NY Times or WaPo article, it's always something like this: some court has come to a decision and here is what a ton of people I don't care about think about it. There is never a link to the actual decision, there is never a summary of the legal basis for the decision, let alone an analysis of why the decision may or may not be sound. There are never any links to primary sources if want to follow up. The only links are to other stories by the same organization that I can click on and drive more revenue to the site. Exactly what value are you giving me?Pass.

  • Thanks to the lower barrier of entry provided by the internets. So there's still quality, but there's a lot more of everything else. Like other low barrier opportunities on the internet they're finding it's not so easy finding that pot of gold at the end of the advertising rainbow.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2016 @04:00PM (#51309733)

    Vice News, FrontLine (PBS), 60 Minutes, and even John Oliver focus on one topic somewhat more in depth than a quick 4 minute story. Now, there should be more reporters, and follow-ups to figure out what is going on now too. I think a lot of journalists have now gone into documentary movie making, where you can make more money and have a bigger impact. I want to see investigative journalism going in that direction, with hour long TV shows and documentary movies on different subjects. I even want to see the talking heads on TV discuss one issue for an hour.

  • I have no problem whatsoever with paying a reasonable amount of money for quality news journalism.

    The problem is not at my end .... trust me. The problem is you pay your $20 a month (which is all it is worth to me) and you get ...

    The same drivel, lack of fact checking, and bizarre typo's from the Spill Chucker (those two words are an example of what the spell checker would pass) that show not only was someone without the required skill to even be writing in a news journal in the first place given the job, b

  • by TheNarrator ( 200498 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @04:07PM (#51309793)

    I have been following the Syrian Civil War and reading [] is about the best there is. It's got a lot better content than anything they write in the New York Times or any other mainstream news. It's basically the perfect news feed: Lots of different opinions from all sides. Occasional analysis, minute by minute updates, etc. I can't imagine how a newspaper could do a better job.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972