To fee, or not to fee

That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler to endure the slings and arrows of old media carping or the continued expectations of “free content” from Internet freeloaders.

Writing for the Guardian (U.K.), Jeff Jarvis opines on American media: “This will be the year when it becomes apparent that the future of news and media is entrepreneurial, not institutional. The year will see the rise of the new overtake the fall of the old. Even so, while we suffer moguls’ death rattles, we will hear continued debate over government intervention to protect them through proposed changes in copyright, tax favours and direct subsidy. If the government steps in, it will be to bail them out as it did for bad banks and General Motors. And we know how well that worked. A concurrent debate in Washington will reach its climax this year over net neutrality and the means to bring broadband ubiquity to the nation. That is the intervention the entrepreneurs seek.”

His next prediction seems even harsher: “While internet media continue to evolve at the rate of a fruit fly, old media companies will continue to flirt with extinction. Newspapers‘ revenue and circulation will still fall and cutbacks will worsen their products, accelerating the businesses’ decline as more papers die. More magazines will fold. Following the sale of NBC as an afterthought in Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal, the value of broadcasting will continue to deflate.”

Having experienced – firsthand – the downfall of the old media model, I’m rooting for the entrepreneurial model.

That might also be because I’m now working in the more entrepreneurial mode. So, yeah, I admit some selfish interests.

But there are some intriguing things going on in that arena:  both not-for-profit and, coming soon, a for-profit approach. But journalism is expensive, especially time-consuming processes such as investigative journalism. Finding a cheaper way to dig up big, important stories will be the key to making it work if they really want to continue some sort of tradition of investigative journalism. We will multitask (even if that overused phrased makes you grind your teeth) more, combining written, photographic, audio and video techniques. The technology is reaching the point that even a trained monkey, such as myself, can edit video into a watchable form.  Eeep! Eeep!

To Mr. Jeepers, who pined for a new iPod, the CD boom box seemed rather quaint.


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