Jeff Jarvis says journalists must ask themselves where they add value.
How much of the dwindling, precious journalism resource we have - on national and local TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines - goes to original reporting, to real journalism? How much goes to repetition and production?
Journalism can’t afford repetition and production anymore.
Every minute of a journalist’s time will need to go to adding unique value to the news ecosystem: reporting, curating, organizing. This efficiency is necessitated by the reduction of resources. But it is also a product of the link and search economy: The only way to stand out is to add unique value and quality. My advice in the past has been: If you can’t imagine why someone would link to what you’re doing, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. And: Do what you do best and link to the rest. The link economy is ruthless in judging value.
The question every journalist must ask is: Am I adding value?
Look at a service such as PaidContent. They have a small (though growing) staff and they choose carefully what they do, whether it’s worth it to send someone to a conference, whether they can add reporting to a story that’s already known, how they can curate links to the best of coverage that already exists. They fire their bullets carefully, economically, to contribute maximum unique value. PaidContent doesn’t - and can’t afford to - record stand-ups or rewrite others’ reporting for the sake of rewriting it or waste money on production and design niceties.
That’s the way that journalism will have to be executed in the future: efficiently.
Once journalism becomes efficient, I think it can do much better than maintain what we have now. When we cut out all the incredible waste - those standups and rewrites and frills and blather - and when we have an ecosystem that rewards unique value, as the internet does, then I think we could end up with more journalism, more reporting.
Jeff asks a good question. But it is not just about efficiency. Journalism needs to adapt, morph and create new ways of telling stories and enagagin us using all new media at our disposal.