The following is my proposal to change the world of journalism as we know it. It’s a concept that may seem a bit farfetched, but I feel it will solve the major problems facing the industry today. Those problems include dealing with “citizen journalists” and monetizing the industry in a digital age. So, forget print and forget hyper local. It’s a new era of journalism and it starts, well, haven’t figured that part out just yet, but it’ll be soon.
Once my plan is implemented, the days of print journalism will be over. Studies show that for the most part younger generations will hardly ever pick up a newspaper. As these younger generations become older, there will not be a need for a mass print journalism industry. Even if it takes buying out companies that still wish to provide print publications, then that’s what I’ll do. There’s no need for those print publications to be around by, say, 2020 – it’s just a waste of money. If you want a hard copy of a news article from the internet, then that’s fine – use a computer printer.
I’m also completely doing away with the idea of hyper local. That’s because it’s up to a community to spread the word about anything happening in their area. If a community has enough people wanting to be informed about everything going on, then they can make the decision of creating a website to put all of that information or try to get their community on a site like Patch.com. Patch is, as mentioned on its website, “a new way to find out about, and participate in, what’s going on near you.” It’s not necessary for a news organization to be in charge of what’s happening in a community. It’s up to the people of that community to pitch in and distribute the information themselves. That is, unless, there is a newsworthy story. In that case, a county level news organization will report on the story for its Web site.
Citizen journalism: It’s a term that is being accepted across the world but has its opponents. According to the New York University journalism Web site, citizen journalism, or participatory journalism, is, “the act of citizens playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. Citizen journalism usually involves empowering ordinary people. Local news written by residents of a community that had previously escaped notice of professionals is an example of citizen journalism.” I feel it is unfair to the thousands of journalists who went to school to study the craft of journalism for anyone who puts an “article” together to be deemed a citizen journalist. That term needs some adjusting. With this plan, that’s exactly what will happen. A new term for public news contributions will be created and they will simply be allowed to legally just post comments on the county, state or national news level web sites.
So, what’s a county level news organization? My new world of journalism includes three levels. A national and world level, a state level and a county level. Over time, I strongly believe television will merge with the Internet and everyone will receive all digital information from some sort of online mega center device. For now, I’m going to stick with having a broadcast component and Internet component for the national and state levels. The county level will primarily be online. The national and world organizations as well as the state level broadcast component will be in the form of a 24 hour network. On the Internet, it’s going to be much different. There will be a website split up into three parts: one for national and world news, one for state news and one for county news. This will be very usable for the American public and they’ll be able to receive all of their news in one place.
Whenever someone wants to hear about anything going on outside of their state that’s important they’ll tune into the national and world network. The function of the national and world level is to inform the American people of stories in the following categories: general world news, the economy, the White House, government, general national news, sports (i.e. Similar to ESPN’s SportsCenter), health, entertainment and national features stories. As mentioned, this organization will be used across two mediums: television and the Internet.
The state level of my new journalism industry will just provide state news to the population of each state. There will be 50 divisions, one for every state. The state level is the simplest of all the levels. It will just have categories about general state news, professional sports of the state and feature news stories somehow related to the state. Again, the same broadcast and online features apply to this level that applies to the national and world level.
The county level is the most interesting. It’s more local than local news is considered now, but it’s less local than the recently coined term “hyper local.” Devising a name for this is a difficult task, but that can come later. There will be one county level news organization for each county in the United States. However, Louisiana and Alaska do not have counties. They have parishes and boroughs, respectively. To fix this, this level will just simply apply to those types of separations. The county level will feature news that’s specific to a certain county. For example, on Long Island, on the fourth of July, the Suffolk County news organization may cover the Montauk fireworks, whereas the Nassau County news organization may cover the Jones Beach fireworks. The categories to be covered in this level include general local news, local sports (both collegiate and high school), local news features and weather. The biggest difference here, as you may notice, is weather. Personally, I feel weather should only be at the local level. Hurricanes and worldwide weather events may be interesting to some people, but generally the people of the American public just want to know how the weather is going to impact them. Big weather stories can be covered at the discretion of the local county weather forecasters. It is not necessary for big networks to cover weather as much as they do. The county news level will provide stories that relate to a more concentrated number of people without getting to an overwhelming nonsense level of hyper locality.
Getting down to business, one of the biggest problems with the journalism industry in this digital age is the fact that making money is not so easy. That’s why I have a plan that will make this new industry financially productive. It will take some time, but over time a large profit will begin to develop. To start, I will seek grants to help cover some of the expenses. At the same time, I will ask for donations to help startup what I feel will be the most reliable and most organized method of news producing. Then, as the plan starts to develop a following, some advertising will be incorporated. Eventually, the following will be so vast that advertising will become more profitable because of the greater number of people getting their news from this new era of journalism. I’m also going to incorporate subscriptions the websites of each news level. Everyone will be able to see the content on the online, with a few exceptions. If you want to tailor your news to you by excluding certain types of stories or simply customizing your news reading on the Internet, you will be charge a very small fee. There will also be stories on the local level that come from crowd sourcing. You must be a subscriber to view these stories, again a very small fee. Speaking of crowd sourcing, this is another way to make money. For those of you who do not know, crowd sourcing is when people contribute money to a reporter who can report on a specific story. The money just covers the costs of reporting the story. That makes it tough for journalists to currently make money through crowd sourcing. However, if it is a story people want reported, eventually enough money will be contributed to make the story possible. That’s why I’m going to propose adding ten percent to whatever the cost of the story is. Once that new amount is raised, the story will be reported. This is how crowd sourcing can become profitable. Each means of raising money will have to be monitored closely, but I feel bringing together all of these smaller ways of making money for online news will help to make the business more profitable than it is now.
Once enough money is generated to get past a volunteer based only staff, there will be full-time positions filled across the country for each level of news. Most of the jobs will strictly be full-time positions, with the exception of a few part-time positions if any one is recruited to work while still in school. At the national and world level, there will be a total of 254 paid staff. Remember, that’s for the sole national news organization. There are eight news categories to be covered at the national level. For each category there will be eight employees per shift. There will be three shifts each day for a total of 24 people working for each category in a period of 24 hours. For each shift there will be one manager, two reporters, one researcher, one writer, one producer and two web editors. Reporters will be responsible for shooting and editing their stories as well as submitting their pieces to a web editor. The other positions will continue to have the same definitions they have today. So, eight categories times 24 people per category per day equal 192 employees. Then, there will be 12 corporate positions: one CEO, one president, two vice presidents and eight general managers – one for each news category. On top of that, I have to include 50 positions under the category of miscellaneous. These positions include technicians, camera operators as well as other desk positions. All of that totals 254 full-time positions. This, when you think about it, is not that much for the only nationwide news provider in the country.
The state news level requires more positions than the national news level. Basing the number of job positions off of the national and world news level, with 50 divisions, one for each state, and three categories, the total number of full-time state level jobs will be 6,108. This includes another eight corporate positions – one for each category plus two vice presidents, one president and one CEO.
The county news level is the most involved when it comes to staff. Including parishes and boroughs, there will have to be 3,223 divisions of the county news organization. Using the same formula to figure out the number of employees, eight corporate positions plus four news categories and 50 miscellaneous positions will equate to 496,342 employees for the county news level. This includes eight corporate positions, the same as described for the state news level above.
In total, this new era of journalism will have around 502,704 full-time paid staff members. I strongly believe this new way of journalism must be more consolidated than the industry is now. Only employing just over half a million people in the United States journalism field does just that.
Now this may seem like sort of some journalism communism, with only one way to receive each level of credible journalism, but it’s not. You’re still going to be given stories reported using different angles; you’re just getting it from one place. Of course many people will disagree with me here, but getting back to the basics, journalism is all about informing people about the facts. So why is it necessary to have many different networks and organizations reporting the same facts? Simply, there isn’t.
My expenses for this industry include primarily a great deal of startup costs. Between copyright costs, startup graphics including logos, broadcasting licenses and legal costs the cost to start up the business will be substantial. Ongoing costs include buying equipment, paying for Internet expenses including domains and paying the salaries of the employees. Of course this will be a long process, but over the next few decades this could and I’m confident will prove to be an effective and profitable way of providing the American people good, credible journalism.
After reading this brief overview of my transformation of the news industry, you’re probably wondering, how soon does he plan on beginning such an intricate process, if at all? Well, my estimation at this point is that it would take three to five years from this point to start the initial stages of transforming today’s field of journalism. Whether any of this happens or not, my views here remain the same: hyper local is overrated, citizen journalism is not journalism at all, print media should be eliminated and all news outlets need to merge to create this, ideal, super center for digital journalism. Big changes need to be made to this field and they need to happen soon. Technology is creating hardships for journalists worldwide and, here in the United States, we should begin to work on fixing the problem. The people of this world need to be informed and informed properly. Money is an issue, but it can’t be the only issue. With my plan, I hold true the fundamentals of credible journalism while bringing in enough revenue to make a profit. That’s the type of industry we need as journalists and we need it now.