Tag Archives: SuperMedia

Education in the future of journalism

So John Nichols seems to believe that a free-market model for journalism doesn’t exist and that the government must bail out the news industry with subsidies.

I’ll give him this, he does make a pretty compelling argument, even if it is one I find rather circular and exclusionary. He said, and rightly so, information can’t be stopped. However, he claims that if journalism isn’t subsidized, and it can’t make money on its own, then journalists won’t be able to continue their craft and thus the news won’t be distributed. But, uh, information can’t be stopped, right?

In theory, this is where citizen journalism would come in. So, maybe the way to save journalism is for professionals to partner with citizens. At least, Charlie Beckett thinks so.

These issues have been discussed to no real avail for quite some time and I doubt a solution will be expounded in the next 200 words or so on this blog. But, here’s my two cents. Journalism needs to shift focus. This has pretty much been the discussion all semester on this blog, so for today I’ll focus on journalism schools and their curriculum.

In 2009, journalism professors worldwide met and held a conference on the issues with journalism education. Some thought that the problems were that students weren’t learning the right set of skills.

But, even among those who thought this, they couldn’t agree on what the right set of skills was. The majority it seemed agreed – and I think they’re right – that electronic media and new forms of communication should take precedence in the curriculum.

But there were dinosaurs who thought there wasn’t enough focus on research conducted solely in print sources like books. That makes about as much sense as saying the resolution of laser printers can’t match that of lead type.

Sure students need to know some of the old methods of research, but the idea of excluding Google is laughable – as is conducting interviews through social media (this is one case where the old method works better).

As the national editor of the Los Angeles Times told his reporters who kept getting scooped by The Washington Post on Watergate stories because they were trying to interview only by phone, “Get off your asses, and knock on doors.”

But, I think the real problem is the disconnect between academic and professional preparedness.

Journalism is largely a professional craft. Academic education isn’t a requisite for entry into the trade. But experience is and this experience is often gained through internships. Which is largely where problems arise. Students often have to sacrifice a lot to take on these internships.

Either the internships are unpaid, forcing the strapped-for-cash student to split focus between the internship and some sort of job to make ends meet, or the student has to pay tuition to receive academic credit for an unpaid internship – but then often academic financing will help cover the rest of the cost of living.

Another option is that parents of journalism students might help them out while they do pro-bono work, but this tends to mean only middle and upper-class students enter the trade because they’re the only ones fortunate enough to have parents who can do this. And then there’s no variety in journalists.

All the while, schools seem to be pushing for internships out of a students normal comfort area – say in Montana for a student from Florida. This is a valid notion since exposure to a broad array of experiences expands journalists’ frame of reference, but this probably isn’t feasible due to the aforementioned reasons.

There’s gotta be a change in how students get the experience they need to get jobs, because a degree alone won’t do it and the sacrifice isn’t worth it to many to then get a lowly salary in their first “real job.” So they defect to other professions.

There’s gotta be a way to get students the experience they need to be prepared to enter the field of journalism without making them choose between success in their academic and professional careers.


SuperMedia: a book report on steroids

Networked Journalism is like steroids for the news media.

And as with any steroids, it doesn’t give the user a reprieve from doing the work; but it does offer a way to get more out of the work the user does.

Charlie Beckett, the originator of this whole Networked Journalism thing said, “Networked Journalism is a process not a product.”

It’s a way to blur the line of demarcation in the production stage between “us and them” – professional vs. citizen journalist – and thus restore the media’s authority that Beckett said is lacking, or at the very least, seriously weakened in journalism today.

He isn’t saying we abandon professional journalism in favor of crowd sourcing or wikis, but rather that professionals use these and other tools as a means to accomplish their journalistic end.

The journalist will still be in charge of editorial decisions, but the role of “gatekeeper” will shift to “facilitator” who connects people to the information they seek.

If you think about it, that’s really been the goal of good journalism all along.

But, the idea of Networked Journalism – or process of it – is really about revamping traditional media in three ways: connection, collaboration and commercialization.


“Good journalism has always been about networking,” said Beckett.

And indeed this is true. It’s not just some new phenomenon of journalism moving online. Journalists have always strove to connect with readers, other journalists, sources, etc… It almost goes hand-in-hand with collaboration, but for now, I’ll think of connection more in terms of tools for accomplishing it.

It’s a great time to be in journalism from a connection aspect because new technologies render certain problems of news gathering obsolete.

Journalists need not look for a pay phone to read stories to writers back in the station, they can just submit things from a laptop with wireless Internet access or a cell phone from the field.

Twitter can also be helpful to journalists in a variety of ways involving connection with others.

There are many other tools helping today’s journalists, but they are so numerous that they deserve much more in-depth coverage than I have space for here.

Suffice it to say that technology has greatly enhanced the ability of journalists to be connected, and yet some haven’t embraced the ease with which this can be accomplished through the application of digital means.

This has got to change and that is a basic premise on which Network Journalism is built.


Collaboration is the by-product of connection with an audience. Some journalists seem to be fighting the idea of collaborating with the citizenry on matters of production, but this goes against the grain of what journalism is about.

“Properly done, news should be a conversation among those who know and those who want to know, with journalists – in their new roles as curators, enablers, organizers, educators – helping where they can,” said Jeff Jarvis, media blogger, journalism professor and author of SuperMedia’s foreword.

This isn’t saying that journalism should be abandoned as a professional endeavor, left to amateurs with blogs and other various forms of social media. That’s not what Networked Journalism is about.

But, it is about collaboration between media professionals and their audience.

The Protestant Reformation happened largely because people were no longer content to rely exclusively on priests to report to them on matters of religion as explained in the Bible. People wanted a more interactive role and the new technology of the time – the printing press – facilitated this desire.

Journalism is undergoing its Protestant Reformation in that people are no longer content to rely only on “professionals” to impart them with information about current events.

They want to play a more interactive role in their own media consumption and new technology has facilitated this desire by marginalizing a once large barrier to entry into journalism – the printing press.

“Power of the press now belongs not to those who own one, but to those who own a modem,” said Paul Bass, editor of the New Haven Independent.

With millions of people who own modems able to have a voice and play a role in journalism, collaboration is inevitably necessary for commercial journalism’s survival.

So, journalists in the traditional sense should listen to Peggy Sturdivant’s philosophy of embracing the “journalistic tendencies as the common denominator” and collaborate.

It really will be beneficial.

As Beckett points out, “Journalism is topical. It is about telling people something as quickly as you can. Everything else is history.”

Indeed the idea of journalism being the “rough draft of history” should precipitate more collaboration.

Take for instance the collaboration among journalists from competing organizations in Washington state – some of whom had never met – and their citizen collaborators on Twitter in quickly gathering news about a storm.

This is a prime example of how Networked Journalism can aid in effective news gathering and transmission.

Also, journalists in formal roles are often easily identifiable and thus can be relatively easily censored.

Think of the regimes in Iran or China where media freedom is a laughable ideal. The government controls the means of communication (to a point) and can suppress journalists from reporting unfavorable events to the rest of the world.

However, the government lacks the means to silence every voice with a cell phone, blog or Twitter account. Therefore, under the Networked Journalism process, reporting of events like the Iranian election riots are still able to escape suppression by government censors and the rest of the world then benefits from the collaboration between journalist and citizen.

The goal is effective dissemination of information in order to lead to a more informed citizenry. Collaboration and Networked Journalism can help accomplish this goal.


Networked Journalism is a social good like Beckett said, but at the end of the day needs to be a commercial endeavor.

Society benefits when journalism thrives because people are more informed. But, journalism needs to discover new ways of supporting itself.

Some, like John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney, believe that the government should supplement journalism so as to circumvent the free-rider effect that seems to run rampant in online journalism.

However, editorial freedom might theoretically suffer should the government get involved.

Beckett has some insight into this since some of the media – including outlets he worked for – in the UK are already supplemented.

At any rate, there seems to be little debate that self-sufficient journalism, commercially speaking, is the best. Although, this isn’t always possible.

However, grants and capital dry up and government supplements are perpetually in danger of being withdrawn as new administrations come and go.

Networked Journalism offers the potential to increase commercialization through the linked ecology Jarvis said is inherent of the Internet.

If advertising supported the press all the years it was in print, there is a way to do so in the digital era. Key words and click-through rates to online advertisements are one way. Banner ads are another. Pop-ups are annoying and now defunct.

Other means include an ad playing prior to watching a video on a news site, or charging for certain content of pertinent interest after having drawn the reader in initially with free content in a concept known as “freemium.”

As journalists catch-up with technology, so too will advertisers and new ways of capitalizing on the commercial value of Networked Journalism will arise.

After all, the basic principles of journalism haven’t changed and it’s value hasn’t diminished.

This is why journalists need to embrace new technologies so that, in the words of Charlie Beckett, they can “save journalism so it can save the world.”

Journalism: keeping it real since circa a long time ago

Many a post on this blog recently have discussed new means of content production in order to save journalism.

The discussion has been about ways of preserving the concept and ideals of journalism while staying innovative and preventing its demise so that its mission can be carried forth.

As shown, journalism can’t serve the public interest if it is marginalized because it’s stuck in the ways of old.

Innovation keeps the relevant information reported by journalists, well, relevant in the minds of readers because they can access it through all the latest trendy means.

For more on this, feel free to curiously peruse previous posts here.

But today’s topic deals a bit with the other side of the coin: Media bombardment and information overload.

There’s never been a more exciting time to be in journalism, say many editors and publishers. These words ring out like echoes through J-schools across the land. And like life rafts to drowning swimmers, they help students stabilize beliefs about prospects for future employment in the industry.

This assessment of the industry today is of course true.

The advent of increased technological means of dissemination means more jobs for those who’ve acquired the necessary skills.

Where up-to-date news once meant at the end of the day, or maybe on the hour for 24-hour news outlets, up-to-date now means right now, this second.

With this influx of new jobs to fill and the ever-present option of creating an independent start-up, the barriers to entry have all but been removed, said Jack Shafer in an article in Slate.

This is true as is the fact that readers can access sites in a multitude of ways – probably as varied and as quickly increasing as the number of news sites themselves.

So, now is a great time to produce news in a world full of media-hungry consumers who are never more than a click away – even while walking somewhere.

The problem is that there isn’t enough information to satisfy this hunger. At least, not enough pertinent information.

This is where fluff takes hold.

Fluff takes two forms: contributory and direct.

Contributory fluff is the filler fluff used in publications that have run out of things to say, but need more to satisfy readers desire for new material. This fluff gives rise to the notion that the news is irrelevant because it often makes stories out of non-stories (See “Trend Stories“), or includes some pointless tidbit that elicits a “Wow, I’m never getting that time of my life back” response.

So, it’s our job as journalists to use news judgement and cut out the (contributory) fluff.

The old adage of give the people what they want says if people want to read new information, give them new information to read. But this doesn’t necessarily work in journalism.

Journalists are entrusted to stick to the relevant stuff and that’s what they should do.

The next sort of fluff is direct.

This is more of a product stemming from the fragmentation of today’s audience.

With splintering groups going off to start their own news outlets (See “Don’t miss the boat on hyperlocal partnering“), many are bound to only be relevant to a very small group. It’s not my goal to say these groups’ expression doesn’t matter, it’s just that it doesn’t matter to the majority of us.

While these minuet publications may make it financially through help from the core base of readers, they often fail when they expand beyond their realm.

This can be seen on a larger scale by looking at media conglomerate Tribune Co. It expanded too quickly and couldn’t keep up revenue wise, thus the company filed for bankruptcy.

However, many local weeklies and free newspapers are doing okay. But, back to the point.

Like spam filling up an inbox, unsolicited e-zines and free newspapers stuck under the windshield wiper of one’s car, direct fluff publications bombard consumers with too much pointless information and elicits a “Who cares, and why isn’t somebody controlling the distribution of this stuff” response from the majority.

When this happens, journalism’s relevance is diluted.

People lump the relevant publications in with the irrelevant as all “news.” And this isn’t good for the relevant ones.

So, I’ve taken a bit of a critical approach to the very ideas of new content generation I’ve preached about prior to this post. One might be inclined to call me hypocritical.

But this isn’t the case.

All I’m saying is that in this age where everything happens quickly and gets reported even quicker, journalists need to remember what it is they’re trying to accomplish.

So collaborate with citizens. Start new publications, in print or online. Become a one-man show like Kery Murakami at the Seattle Post-Globe.

Just remember: Focus on the product. Keep your readers in mind. Be innovative. But don’t be a part of the fluff spewing around cyberspace.

Journalism isn’t a reality show, it supposed to show reality.

Don’t miss the boat on hyperlocal partnering

Looking around the newspaper industry, the big conglomerate-owned publications are in trouble, but the small-town weeklies seem to be okay.

Therefore, it would seem that as news moves online, the race to capture the hyperlocal audience would be fierce.

But, this isn’t necessarily so. Which begs the question: Why not?

After all, the majority of people in this county don’t live in cities according to a Pew Research Center study.

Sure there are papers – like The Miami Herald, The Seattle Times and several others – that are partnering with supplemental blogs to add a local flavor, but this seems largely an academic exercise rather than an economic attempt to capture a readership.

Don’t get me wrong, journalism’s core values are relatively academic, but the business model is largely a professional endeavor grounded in trial and error.

Embracing “journalistic tendencies as a common denominator” as Peggy Sturdivant calls it, and allowing for the collaboration between citizen and journalist with an increasingly blurred line of demarcation between viable local news produced by “amateurs” and more substantiated (from an economic perspective) publications produced by “professionals” can help ensure the survival of the craft as a whole.

After all, the goal is to attract readers to what we write.

Could it be that once again – as was the case with online classified advertising and the advent of Craigslist – that mainstream publications are missing the boat? For their sake, I hope not.

News is moving online. There’s no point in denying it.

As New Haven Independent editor Paul Bass said, “Power of the press now belongs not to those who own one, but to those who own a modem. We own a modem.”

This is one basis of the Internet revolution pertaining to journalism. Publishing content is relatively simple and inexpensive and no longer limited to those who can afford expensive printing presses.

Of course, the other side of the coin is that while with printed material it costs only a small fee for access, the free material published online requires readers to have Internet access (shockingly, not everyone does).

However, this problem will soon be a moot point. Just this week, the Federal Communications Commission unveiled a plan to spread broadband access to rural areas.

Not too long ago, people couldn’t read news on their phones; now, most everyone has a smartphone capable of more sophisticated stuff than the computers of five years ago. So, it shouldn’t take long for rural readers’ technology to catch up to that of rural publishers.

With the access problem effectively sidestepped, local startups are free to return to practicing journalism.

For instance, people in small communities like McIntosh, Fla., become tired of the lack of local news in The Gainesville Sun; so, someone starts a blog pertinent to local issues.

Certainly, not all local publications will be sustainable – as shown by the death of certain town pages on WikiCity – but this doesn’t give credence to Perry Gaskill’s point of view that partnering with these pages isn’t worth the effort for newspapers. As one startup goes belly-up, several more will take that one’s place.

Of course, this presents a problem, albeit a small one, for newspapers in the form of which blogs to choose for partnerships, but it seems these local news spots aren’t being suppressed by lack of support from traditional media organizations.

So, support in the form of even a named partnership between newspaper and blog curator allowing easier access when knocking on doors should suffice – and to the benefit of both organizations. It doesn’t have to be extravagant and elaborate.

That way, should the local blog shut down, not much is lost on the end of the newspaper.

This is certainly the way the Twin Cities Daily Planet thinks.

So, be progressive mainstream journalism publications and don’t miss the boat on this one like you did with online classified advertising.

Is the limbo breaking journalism’s back?

Journalism is in limbo.

It hasn’t lost its value, but newspapers are becoming a stale medium and solid business models for digital journalism haven’t yet been devised.

The Newspaper Association of America would like you to believe that the stale medium part isn’t true, producing advertisements with statistical data to counteract the belief that “nobody reads the newspaper anymore.”

Indeed, the Association says 104 million people read a newspaper each day and that 61 percent of people aged 18-34 read a newspaper in an average week.

While I have no doubt the first statistic is true, the second seems a tad disingenuous. Skimming the sports page of a student paper – like all good University of Florida students do with the Alligator – can hardly be considered reading a newspaper.

The truth is: Generations X and Y don’t feel the same nostalgia toward newspapers that the generations before them did.

What was once a trusted adviser and a familiar friend – there to assist in matters of politics, gossip and entertainment – is now something that gets ink all over one’s hands and is hard to refold.

With up-to-the-minute news over the Internet accessible from almost any computer or mobile phone, the paper doesn’t enjoy the same monopoly on simple, transportable news it once did. Often, by the time the paper arrives, the news it contains has already been reported hours earlier online.

But, as the Newspaper Association of America astutely points out – even if it is while tooting the industry’s own horn – newspapers invest the most in journalism.

Television closely follows, but no amount of journalism via blogs and other non-profit ventures “could match the depth and breadth of newspaper-produced content.”

Clearly, then, we can’t allow newspaper companies to disappear – which is where networked journalism assumes its role.

Networked journalism, as presented by Charlie Beckett in his book “SuperMedia,” posits that through technological advances, the world has become far more interconnected and that journalism’s social role has only increased in importance.

Therefore, journalism cannot be a dying venture.

Through collaboration between the various forms of media, coverage can be expanded, content can be diversified and the transition to other forms of media can be smoothed.

The only thing lacking is creativity in business models that makes the reporting economically feasible. So let’s look at those who seem to be succeeding in this department.

Mark Potts has a two-part article on this at his blog “Recovering Journalist.”

Feel free to read it for more in-depth coverage on specific sites. I’m focusing on the lessons learned from capitalizing on new tools and the potential ramifications these contributions have to the rise of networked journalism.

First, on the Web there is no such thing as a stand-alone publication.

At least a good one anyway. Readers link to other sites, lookup unfamiliar information, dig further into stories, and link back (hopefully).

So, in the spirit of network journalism, make the news interactive – linking to unfamiliar concepts or events in stories and providing maps for uncommon areas.

A laurel to The New York Times for embracing this. A dart to the Los Angeles Times for failing to.

Second, fragmentation of the audience is a farce. Well, sort of.

Sure, the audience is split, but if networking is done properly, readers will stay connected to topics outside their niche. This follows the logic of “there are no stand-alone Web sites.”

For example, Politico and FiveThirtyEight.com are niche publications focusing on politics; but by linking, these sites bring the fragmented audience interested in politics opportunities to easily stumble onto other subjects.

Third, Web commerce is based on innovation.

Just look at the St. Petersburg Times’ PolitiFact. The goal is to engage in investigative reporting – which many thought had gone under with budget cuts at newspapers – to fact-check politicians’ assertions.

The innovative business model here is syndicating it.

Most newspapers have Web sites, Potts said, but don’t want to invest the initial capital to startup a feature like PolitiFact. Now, they don’t have to, paying PolitiFact instead.

Of course, there are a lot of sites that I didn’t mention engaging in innovative solutions to revenue problems in journalism such as foundation-endowed EveryBlock that provides customized news for an immediate area (block) surrounding an address.

Also, the collaboration between journalist and audience, employer and employee is strengthened by network journalism.

Blogging and other forms of social media make stronger connections between these groups and allow people to connect who otherwise might not have (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc…). This could lead to potential job opportunities, hiring opportunities, story ideas, you name it.

The one thing lacking is solid means of verification concerning “facts” found online. But then that brings us right back to a major premise of journalism: challenging information.

As I said in another blog post: ‘Paper’ is the only part of ‘newspaper’ that’s obsolete.

Napster 2.0: Now with news

Journalism is facing its version of the music industry’s peer-to-peer crisis of a decade ago.

With plenty of free content online, sales of hard-copy are tanking. Just as listeners were no longer forced to buy the whole CD to get the one song they wanted, readers are no longer forced to buy the whole newspaper to read only the articles pertinent to their interests.

They can just go online and find it.

Doing so is by no means a new feat, but as social media evolves, it becomes easier. Using tools like Google Reader, media consumers streamline the information-collecting process and avoid being bothered with off-topic drivel.

But with this, comes audience fragmentation. Readers will be acutely educated on a specific topic (or few), but won’t posses the variety in their wealth of knowledge that leads to more informed decisions.

When you only find what you’re looking for, you loose “the ability to make fortunate discoveries accidentally,” said William McKeen in an article in The New York Times.

That’s why McKeen, a professor at the University of Florida, requires students in his freshmen journalism class to read the print edition of The New York Times Monday through Friday. (There’s your subsidy, guys.)

But journalists need to connect with readers who aren’t a captive audience.

Apparently, newspapers aren’t doing the job. Just look at the financial problems of companies like Tribune.

Leonard Downie Jr. and Michael Schudson posit that allowing newspapers to register as non-profit organizations for tax purposes is the answer. Certainly, the government-subsidy model has certainly worked for the BBC.

To some, the idea is heretical: Government must not interfere with the press. Yet, some believe the First Amendment requires the government to ensure survival of a free press. Hence, the subsidies.

Endowments work. Just ask Propublica, but they are not easy to acquire and aren’t usually permanent.

One thing is clear: There is no one-size-fits-all model for news organizations to base their restructuring aspirations on.

The best that can be done is to experiment with new media in order to create a desirable product.

Downie and Schudson said news reporting is evolving into a mutual exercise between journalist and consumer.

If so, then the emphasis on the role of citizen journalism needs to increase ten fold. As Doug Fisher, a journalism professor at the University of South Carolina, notes, “At least half of your audience knows more about the story than you do…”

Realize this. Include audience participation through social networking and media resources like Facebook and Twitter. It will bolster your credibility and connection with the audience.

So will linking, whether to other Web sites with more information or to in-house sources providing definitions of strange words and concepts like The New York Times does.

Forget the idea that journalists are journalists and citizens are not. If this were true, the Washington Post wouldn’t entertain the likes of Daniel Lippman at a great loss to themselves.

In Alan Rusbridger’s response to Downie and Schudson, he includes an anecdote about The Guardian being prevented from publishing parliament news due to a gag order. After he lamented about it on Twitter, his followers engaged in journalism of their own and forced transparency upon the government regarding the issue. There’s an example of a mutually beneficial relationship between audience and press.

Social media only makes that bond stronger. The newspaper might loose relevancy, but the news never will.

Like social-media writter Fred Cavazza said, “There was a life before Facebook and there will be one after.”

If it were possible for digital media to destroy an industry, then the music industry wouldn’t be prosperous post-Napster.

Remind me again, how much money did Beyonce Knowles make last year? (Answer: $87 million)

‘Paper’ is the only part of ‘newspaper’ that’s obsolete

Journalism is facing a crisis.

Like video rental stores in the age of on-demand cable delivery, automated video dispensers like Redbox, and movie streaming Web sites, companies who convey the news through the medium of newspapers are finding themselves peddling a product with drastically reduced demand.

Already, Tribune Co. – a stalwart of the industry that owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times – has filed for bankruptcy.

However, unlike video rental stores that, without people to rent videos because of new-age delivery technologies, went out of business, newspaper companies still produce a valuable product: news.

All these companies need to do is figure out how reach the audience.

This is easier said than done, though, as other problems have arisen.

The other problems

As Todd Gitlin of openDemocracy puts it, journalism is facing many crises. The most notable additions are circulation, revenue, attention and authority.

The other, failure to penetrate the closed doors of power to make transactions more transparent, has been a problem for some time, he said.

Indeed in Matt Taibbi’s book “Spanking the Donkey,” he describes how the White House Press Corps agreed to prescreening of questions during the campaign season of 2004. Kowtowing to this kind of pressure creates a perception in readers’ minds that the Fourth Estate has lost its teeth, its relevance, its credibility. It’s hard to bring things out in the open when there’s no spontaneity.

Reduced circulation causes a loss of revenue, not because of the loss of paying subscribers – subscription rates cover the printing and delivery of the paper to them – but in advertising revenue. Fewer readers means less money ad space can command.

As for attention, people still stay informed, just not with newspapers. People receive bills and correspondence online, so why not get the news there.

Giving investigative reporting, fact finding and copy editing the ax is the first step to loosing authority. The quality of the product is directly correlated with the perception of authority.

Saving the ‘fish wrapper’

John Nichols and Robert McChesney at The Nation believe government intervention – in the form of public policy and subsidies – are the answer. This sounds a lot like the economic policies used to help stabilize the downward spiral of the auto and banking industries under the “too big to fail” doctrine that journalists so fervently write venomous editorials about.

Nichols and McChesney posit that the First Amendment not only provides for the possibility of a free and independent press, but also that the government must ensure that there is one.

But as they admit, the way the problem is being framed makes it difficult for a solution to be reached.

Government intervention may be required. However, it should be more in the form of fostering ventures into the cyberworld and regulating giant conglomerates’ ownership of outlets – not easing financial burdens of printing.

Part of the problem is that smaller papers – like The Gainesville Sun – are owned by a larger conglomerate – in this case The New York Times Co.

With the parent publication in somewhat of a dire financial straight, the smaller paper is forced to cut back and forward residual profit away from the community it’s supposed to be serving rather than reinvesting and improving the product.

Sounds like something the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission could delve into rather than simply handing out subsidies.

But, even that wouldn’t fix the problem.

How to do it

Embrace the new medium; view the Internet as an advantage, not an adversary.

The Internet provides many tools that make journalists jobs easier. Fact checking is easier online. Sending material from the field to the newsroom is easier online. Online content is cheaper to produce than print, and will ultimately be how the majority gets the news in the future.

That isn’t to say avoid the print stuff, but try and integrate.

Use Twitter to connect with people and discover tips. Facebook is good, too. Millions of college students can’t be wrong.

Employ RSS feeds to disiminate information quickly to readers. Recognize that many people will use an RSS hub – such as Google Reader – to collect and organize various news sites.

In days gone by, papers competed for readers’ (almost) exclusive attention, but this isn’t so anymore.

The Palm Beach Post, the Sun Sentinel in Ft. Lauderdale and The Miami Herald once furiously competed for readers, now they share material. Albeit this is mostly a cost-cutting move in the print world, it’s commonplace in the digital one through linking.

Readers won’t be loyal to one news site at the exclusion of others. Acknowledge this and cultivate links when curating the news. Allow people to leave your site, knowing they’ll probably be back later. Make digging deeper more convenient by linking to sources rather than requiring the reader to search themselves.

To a point, that is. There are still some ethics involved in promoting off-site material and user-generated content and linking simply for linking’s sake isn’t a great idea.

But promote citizen journalism and the expression of ideas by fostering debate in an open marketplace.

Use the Internet in fact checking to strengthen the accuracy and supporting details in stories and allowing for quick corrections when an error occurs.

No reporter is infallible, but there are plenty of Daniel Lippmans out there who would help identify flaws if only there were an easier and quicker way.

Via the Internet, not only can readers get news, but they can identify mistakes easier, notify the news agency quicker, and the news agency can make corrections faster.

By being open to change, maybe journalism can switch from “grabbing its ankles,” as Taibbi said, and begin the not-so-far journey from ankle to bootstrap to begin pulling up.