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Representative Journalism Becomes More Appealing

When I first came up with my idea of Representative Journalism, which basically says if people want high quality information they should be willing to pay for it, lots of people said that would never happen. I argued that the day was coming that if they did not pay there would be no decent journalism. That day is arriving sooner rather than later.

New York Times media columnist David Carr chronicles recent newspaper gloom writing:

It’s been an especially rotten few days for people who type on deadline. On Tuesday, The Christian Science Monitor announced that, after a century, it would cease publishing a weekday paper. Time Inc., the Olympian home of Time magazine, Fortune, People and Sports Illustrated, announced that it was cutting 600 jobs and reorganizing its staff. And Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the country, compounded the grimness by announcing it was laying off 10 percent of its work force — up to 3,000 people.

After writing about other moribund news operations he writes:

At the recent American Magazine Conference, one of the speakers worried that if the great brands of journalism — the trusted news sources readers have relied on — were to vanish, then the Web itself would quickly become a “cesspool” of useless information. That kind of hand-wringing is a staple of industry gatherings.

But in this case, it wasn’t an old journalism hack lamenting his industry. It was Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google.

I think all of us in the industry have to say and believe:

  • High quality journalism has value.
  • If it has value, consumers should be willing to pay for it –just like they pay for a haircut or cable TV.
  • We must make consumers aware that the coming cesspool of useless information is figuratively about to backup at their electronic doorsteps
  • And without journalism, their city sewers are literally apt to back up in their front and back yards.
  • We must provide the high quality journalism and market it extensively, while building high quality information communities with our audiences, who will spread the message virally and ensure it is heard, understood and championed.

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About RJ

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    Leonard Witt

    Leonard Witt is the Robert D. Fowler Distinguished Chair in Communication at Kennesaw State University and the chief blogger at PJNet.org.

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  • A Definition

    Representative Journalism, a term coined by Leonard Witt, aims to build sustainable journalism one small group at a time.

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    Leonard Witt has been developing the Representative Journalism idea behind the scenes for several months. Now he is going public. You can help develop the concept into a workable model or models for mainstream media, small operations, start-ups or individual endeavors.

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