Our Real Problem: The Death of the News Package

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

The problem we have to face up to is that just sticking a paywall
around what we used to do will not solve our problems on its own (and by decreasing page views, may harm ad revenue and make things worse…. ) We actually have
to re-evaluate what we do from the ground up and separate those things
that were an inherent quality of print from those that are an inherent
quality of journalism. (Hint: if your job has “news” or “features” in
the title, you’re still defined by print.)

Some of our most sacred cows are due for the slaughter, I suspect. I find this post by Chris Alden, now CEO of blogging platform compny Six Apart, but formerly the guy behind Red Herring magazine, compelling in the context of this discussion:

I think hiding behind “expert” quotes is one of the bad
habits of professional journalism and ranks up there with “anecdotes”
as one of the most abused methods for injecting a story bias. A story
bias is when the writer has the story concept first, and then gets the
anecdotes, quotes, and statistics to make the case. The bias can be
left or right, up or down, but usually it’s in favor of the salacious
or exciting story, and against the dull “nothing to see here” story
which is more often than not the reality. Even those journalists that
can resist an ideological bias often have a hard time resisting a story
bias — because without a story they don’t have a job. It’s an inherent

The sobering truth is that journalists no longer have anything near a
monopoly on access to publishing tools. We can no longer define
ourselves by the narrow information channel, the page count and the
lead story. The internet has destroyed the existing structure of our
profession and we need to find a new one. And the reflexive habits of
our profession, shaped by the need to produce a package, need to pass
away with our old business model.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.