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By Coming to this Website, You're Looking at the Future of Journalism

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Message Ed Martin

It's worth quoting the first paragraph of an article from The Nation by John Nichols and Robert McChesney:

"Communities across America are suffering through a crisis that could leave a dramatically diminished version of democracy in its wake. It is not the economic meltdown, although the crisis is related to the broader day of reckoning that appears to have arrived. The crisis of which we speak involves more than mere economics. Journalism is collapsing, and with it comes the most serious threat in our lifetimes to self-government and the rule of law as it has been understood here in the United States."-

The article goes on to document the failure of various newspapers across the country and the subsequent loss of journalistic reporting on the nefarious machinations of those in power. The author's solution to the decline of journalism is government support. While admitting that government support is a tricky thing to do without influencing the result, the authors contend that it can be done without distorting the reporting and turning it into government propaganda.

I agree that it is possible to separate the funding, subsidy, support by the government so as not to influence the reporting, but a look at what is already happening with websites on the internet shows that government support is not needed, and it shows what the future of journalism already looks like.

The Christian Science Monitor is a good example of the trend away from the print media to web based journalism. The Monitor will stop daily print distribution in April and go to a weekly paper and a daily website.

It's ironic that the "professional journalists"- look down on and regularly denigrate the bloggers, when at the same time it's the blogs that are where the people are going for their news. I don't know how much difference, if any, there is between a website and a blog. They seem to have become very much the same thing. As such, the Christian Science Monitor will now present their news reporting on what is essentially a blog.

From the Monitor's announcement of these changes:

"The Monitor has required a subsidy from the Christian Science church for most of its history. In the current budget year ending April 30, the Monitor in all forms is forecast to lose $18.9 million. The church will provide a subsidy of $12.1 million from the general fund, with earnings from the Monitor Endowment Fund and donor contributions to the Monitor's operating fund covering the balance. The changes in strategy are projected gradually to decrease the Monitor's net operating loss to $10.5 million in 2013, so the church general fund subsidy will be $3.7 million, said managing publisher Jonathan Wells."-

The important thing to get from this is that the Monitor's website will be supported by donations from those interested in seeing what it has to say and in seeing it continue. With one major exception, doesn't that sound familiar?

The familiar part is that OpEdNews is possible because of donations. The exception is that OpEdNews has a cadre of volunteer editors and writers who are committed to seeing that news-worthy articles are published so that as many people as want to can be informed, for free.

OpEdNews has the same basic structure as most newspapers, with the OpEd column (editorials), the hard news column, and the other columns that cover just about everything else, with some features that newspapers don't have, such as the diaries and polls. The comment section at the articles are the equivalent of the letters to the editor, with the difference that they always get posted, if they're not outrageously gross.

Looking at my local paper, the most read section shows an average of 3 out of 5 or 5 out of 10 are about sports. OpEdNews has safely and correctly ignored that subject as irrelevant. There are thousands of sports blogs available for those so addicted.

So, since Rob Kall has developed what is essentially the format and content of a newspaper, when will it be acknowledged that there is journalism going on here? And when will the article contributors be acknowledged as reporters?

I may be jumping the gun here, but I see OpEdNews as the developing pattern for what will constitute the journalism of the future. I see its future as a national news source that can just as well pull and publish articles from Reuters and the Associated Press as any newspaper. What will be needed to replace the reporters at the former newspapers is volunteer reporters to go to the source, both local and federal, such as the courts, the local and federal regulatory agencies, government departments and the various police agencies to get the current story and report it.

And, what will be needed is continuing financial support by contributions and by writers who find items of importance to the public. As we can see from the decline of newspapers all over, the era of for-profit journalism is over, with reporters paid to tell a story. It appears to me that the future of journalism is going to be sustained by those who are willing to volunteer their cash, time and effort to support it. OpEdNews is the leading example of that.

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Ed Martin is an ordinary person who is recovering from being badly over-educated. Born in the middle of the Great Depression, he is not affiliated with nor a member of any political, social or religious organization. He is especially interested in (more...)
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