Monday, July 19, 2010

Burnout hurting new media

I've felt for some time that the biggest threat to newspapers was their own managers. I watched as newspapers cut deeply into content in search of ever-more "savings," often while raising the prices they charged at the same time (see Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Let's see, hummm, less content for a higher price. Yep, sounds like a winning strategy to me. (Note to newspaper managers: the preceding two sentences are satire.)

Now comes a story that indicates new media are just as stupid. It's a New York Times story already behind its pay wall, but available easily by searching Nexus or just Googling key words. Its first page is here. The story describes about how various new media sites -- especially Politico -- are pressuring writers to constantly add material to their stories so Google bots will update the stories and the site will get more hits. Quality? Don't worry about it. Added value? No problem. Writer burnout? We'll just hire more.

I love journalism, and I believe new media tools are adding greatly to journalism. But I've yet to see any sign that the media industry really has a clue. Sure, it will eventually settle down to a profitable model based on actually providing information. But I worry about the incredibly-poor judgement in newsrooms and what will happen to the greater public good before the industry managers get a clue.