Journalism as we know it is changing, rapidly. But is the trend toward linking and collaborating one which will stand the test of time? And what does it all mean to the notion of making a living?
Since I stopped working for a weekly newspaper which resulted in the loss of my weekly paycheck, I have been exploring the potential for writing on the Internet. My study has led me to believe that it is easy to write on-line. In fact, anyone can do it. One thing is certain, there are no short-cuts. And the down side is that not everyone can make a living at it.
While I remain in the throes of the learning process, I have concluded that making a living as a writer on the Internet may be doable, but it will take not only talent, but lots of hard work, and perhaps a little luck. The pool is large and growing as journalism schools graduate new students and established newspapers present pink slips to longtime reporters.
The new trends: link and collaborative journalism, encouragement of citizen journalists, and a steady influx of new bloggers is producing a glut of sources to fill our 24-hour news shows.
I have to wonder how much of this new found information is paid for? Does CNN pay citizen journalists to send in photographs of planes landing in the river or forest fires threatening neighborhoods? Are bloggers paid when they provide information that goes on the air?
It seems to me that news organizations, which are scrambling to save themselves are doing it at the expense of the innocence of some hard-working would-be journalists eager to see their work displayed in the mainstream. Even the newspaper I worked for begged for digital photographs to be contributed to help provide community news. There was no talk of compensation, but there was an offer of a byline.
Getting a byline is a great thing. I happen to think a byline stands for something special. It should not be tossed out like candy at a parade. I also believe that if work is good enough to earn a byline, it is good enough to deserve compensation.
It seems that along with journalim trends, there is a growing practice to try to coerce free services from journalists in return for nothing more than a pat on the back. Trouble is a pat on the back won't feed the family. I hope the journalism trend does not include FREEdom of the press.
I happen to believe that this freebie trend will peak and then subside as the laws of nature dictate. Once people realize how hard they are working for nothing or for very little, we will begin to see survival of the fittest.