The Roosevelt Institute sponsored a conference at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, “Facing the Fracture: Media & Economic Understanding,” which focused on the reporting challenge posed by the global financial crisis, particularly given the continuing economic pressures on news organizations.
I’ve seen the difficulties faced by the MSM in conventional terms, and that may be too narrow a frame. On the business side, its’ the loss of classified advertising revenues, compounded by falling subscriptions as more people consume news and information over the web. On the reporting side, reporting cycles are shorter, while at the same time, large corporations and governments have gotten far better at message control (both the packaging of the story, as well as the subtle and not so subtle pressures exerted on reporters).
So news organizations are under pressure from multiple fronts. And since I see blogs as relying on news coverage to a significant degree (even if they don’t necessarily point to articles or op-eds, they still depend on traditional reporting to provide a baseline of information). Naked Capitalism often hews to the “online long form op-ed/analysis” variant of blogging, which I have seen as complimentary to the MSM.
That may be naive. I am not doing his question justice, but Martin Wolf (the Financial Times’ esteemed chief economics commentator) asked the bloggers’ panel how we thought news organizations could survive, and the subtext was that he thought blogging represented a direct challenge to the traditional news franchise, not simply due to loss of eyeballs (although that is bad enough) but also that news organizations are devoting resources to blogging (not just the Reuters model of hiring full time bloggers like Felix Salmon and Rolfe Winkler, but commentators like Paul Krugman and now even Wolf himself having blogs).
The problem is that the hollowing out of news organizations can only go so far before information delivery becomes impaired (is the future that all virtually all original business reporting is done by Bloomberg and Reuters because it can afford to use their data service revenues to subsidize reporting? And isn’t that model ultimately subject to the same profit pressures on reporting? Put it this way: if Bloomberg sold his firm to a private equity investor, wouldn’t you expect them to start cutting the news budget?)
I invite reader comment. Obviously, readers here no doubt have a bias towards blogs, but what do you see as the broader implications of continued pressure on traditional news budgets, not just for the news organizations themselves, but for bloggers?