Judging by some recent Editor's Picks, I have noticed an interest by the Open Salon staff regarding the road ahead for journalism. On May 7th, the Senate Commerce Committee held hearings on the future of journalism.
Several Open Salon members have already posted about this and I have shown below all of the OS stories I could find here on the subject with short clips from each. In one case, the Open Salon author's post had no comments or ratings so I'm guessing that the blog traffic was heavy that day.
I also tracked down a thoughtful piece by Ryan Tate at gawker.com on the David Simon testimony plus the official Senate press release with quotes and the transcript of participants from the Columbia School of Journalism live blogging of the Senate hearing.
A fascinating point that counters Simon's testimony is that there is plenty of evidence of bloggers attending local meetings/gatherings at the grass roots level and reporting on it, something Simon claims is missing from the world of blogging.
David Simon Testimony on Journalism
"I went to Big Salon's first page and thought it was the full Simon testimony, but alas that clip had Ms. Huffington and Marissa Mayer from Google arguing why as newspaper story aggregators they should not have to pay the newspapers. Man, I do get a reaction to Huffington. Maybe it's because she found the new religion, being a liberal and now is making gobs of money using other people's work and publishes a rag.
Simon's testimony is a great lesson in what happened, what is happening and what will happen to journalism. He talks about the buy outs of newspapers and the loss of actual journalists digging stories, not just picking up or aggregating other stories from news feeds. Investigative reporting, where will it happen?"
David Simon: Downfall of Media, and True Value of Journalism
"I am currently enduring the fact that as an active member of media, I currently cannot find a paid job. I am doing the HiSciFi show, and write an occasional blog entry, for free. It would be great to get paid while doing things I love. But that does not seem to be the case. And this is not necessarily due to the fact that economy is reeling. The truth is that prior to this economic depression, the news nooses have been tightening, lay-offs and cost cutting was a regular thing in the halls of TV networks, newspaper and magazine boardrooms. It’s been getting harder to make money for the last 10 years in this industry, period.
David Simon is not oblivious to this. In fact, he points to the rise of mediocrity such as USA Today, and the narrowing number of reporters who were told to do “more with less.”
“You get to do less with less. Not more with less,” explains Simon.
At the same time, Simon is somewhat oblivious to the rising content of bloggerdom. He firmly believes in authority of “journalistic integrity” even though we’ve witnessed not only a) journalists turning to blogging, but b) the fact that journalism has reached a whole new low."
David Simon Goes to Washington
"While good reporting may be hard to find, it is not because people lack some special training or knowledge that separates professional journalists from the froth-producing rest of us. It is because good reporting requires a substantial investment of time and money, and newspaper executives have sacrificed that investment for short-term profits, and online media has failed, thus far, to find a revenue model to support it. Simon acknowledges that journalism should not be dictated by Wall Street, yet he was quick to dismiss the bogeyman that is publicly-funded journalism. (If he really believes a government-supported media cannot produce excellent journalism, perhaps he has never heard of the BBC.)
While I was dismayed by Simon’s smugness, his pessimism, and his blindness to the obvious pitfalls of his anti-competitive proposal, my biggest disappointment was that amid all of his high-minded talk about the importance of journalism to democracy, he demonstrates a remarkable lack of vision. Rather than seeing promise in innovation and the democratizing potential of the Internet, he embraces a wholesale exemption from antitrust laws to save a protectionist vision of journalism where news content is a capitalist commodity produced by an elitist few. Maybe Simon does fit in with Hollywood after all."
David Simon: Dead-Wrong Dinosaur
"The creator of the brilliant television series The Wire today asked Congress to legalize monopolistic collusion by newspapers. Only they can really cover City Hall, he said. Apparently he hasn't been there in a while.
I found this argument odd, because as a newspaper reporter who spent a few years covering a town much like Baltimore — Oakland, California — I often found that bloggers were the only other writers in the room at certain city council committee meetings and at certain community events. They tended to be the sort of persistently-involved residents newspapermen often refer to as "gadflies" — deeply, obsessively concerned about issues large and infinitesimal in the communities where they lived."
The whole story can be found at:
Key Quotes from the Future of Journalism Hearing
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a subcommittee hearing on The Future of Journalism.
The Honorable Benjamin Cardin, United States Senator, Maryland
Ms. Marissa Mayer, Vice President, Search Products & User Experience, Google Inc.
Mr. Steve Coll, Former Managing Editor, Washington Post
Mr. David Simon, Author, TV Producer and Former Newspaperman
Mr. Alberto Ibargüen, President and Chief Executive Officer, John S. And James L. Knight Foundation
Mr. James M. Moroney, Publisher/CEO, The Dallas Morning News
Ms. Arianna Huffington, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, The Huffington Post
*not necessarily in order of appearance
Key quotes from today’s hearing:
“In the near term, we must seek ways to make sure that our existing news entities find a firmer financial footing. In the long term, however, we face more fundamental concerns. From the very beginning our approach to media policy has been informed by a set of core values—encouraging competition, ensuring a diversity of voices, and fostering localism. Despite the changes all around us, I believe we should strive to make sure that these values continue to inspire our media policy in the digital age.”
Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller, IV
“As a means of conveying news in a timely way, paper and ink have become obsolete, eclipsed by the power, efficiency and technological elegance of the Internet. But just looking at the erosion of newspapers is not the full picture; it’s just one casualty of a completely shifting and churning information landscape. Most experts believe that what we are seeing happen to newspapers is just the beginning—soon, perhaps in a matter of a few years, television and radio will experience what newspapers are experiencing now.”
Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet
“While we have lots of news sources, we rely on newspapers for in-depth reporting that follows important issues, records events and exposes misdeeds. Most, if not all, sources of journalistic information – from radio to television to the Internet – gather their news from newspaper reporters who cover the issues on a daily basis and know their communities. It is in the interest of our nation and good governance that we ensure they survive.”
Senator Benjamin Cardin
“The Web by definition changes and updates constantly throughout the day. Because of its ability to operate in real-time, it offers an opportunity for news publishers to publish on changing and evolving stories as they happen. Today, in online news, publishers frequently publish several articles on the same topic, sometimes with identical or closely related content, each at their own URL.”
Ms. Marissa Mayer
“The essential question is whether the current crisis in journalism has brought forward matters of public interest sufficient to warrant review and adjustment of those journalism-shaping policies that Congress already oversees—and whether those reforms can be undertaken without reducing the distance between government and journalism.”
Mr. Steve Coll
“Yes, I have heard the post-modern rallying cry that information wants to be free. But information isn’t. It costs money to send reporters to London, Fallujah and Capitol Hill, and to send photographers with them, and to keep them there day after day. It costs money to do the finest journalism. And how anyone can believe that the industry can fund that kind of expense by giving its product away online to aggregators and bloggers is a source of endless fascination to me.”
Mr. David Simon
“Nothing Congress can do is as important as providing universal digital access and adoption. If the future of democracy’s news and information is online—then we must ensure everyone is online. Even today, if you’re not digital, you’re a second class citizen in the United States.”
Mr. Alberto Ibargüen
“Newspaper publishers should be able to obtain reasonable compensation from Internet companies that reproduce newspaper content for a commercial purpose. Many of these operators copy or summarize a link to newspaper content in order to drive search or audience to the Web sites, then sell advertising wrapped around this newspaper content.”
Mr. James M. Moroney
“The discussion needs to move from “How do we save newspapers?” to “How do we strengthen journalism—via whatever platform it is delivered?” We must never forget that our current media culture led to the widespread failure to serve the public interest by accurately covering two of the biggest stories of our time: the run-up to the war in Iraq and the financial meltdown.”
Ms. Arianna Huffington
Over at the Columbia School of Journalism, participants were live blogging the Senate hearing and I have added in their discussion which adds another facet to what was said that day.
CJR staffers will be live blogging The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s “Future of Journalism” hearing in the comments section of this post. Starting here around
2:30pm whenever it starts. All are welcome to participate.
Subcommittee chair John Kerry starts out by citing a quote by Joseph Pulitzer, endower of the Columbia Journalism School, and name checked the J-school by way of pointing out that said quote adorns the school’s lobby.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:23 PM
JFK (yep, look it up) says that the hearing was scheduled well before Boston Globe’s troubles.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:25 PM
Sen. John Kerry kicks off the hearing with a Columbia Journalism Review name check (but, was it a mis-attribution? looking into that.)
Also, he said, "telephony."
Posted by Liz Cox Barrett on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:26 PM
Never thought I’d hear John Kerry, a man who fell 60,000 votes short of the presidency, talking about The New York Times’s nearly 500,000 Facebook friends.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:28 PM
Kerry’s talking about reforming the congressional credentialing system—good idea. One thing they might want to do is make it so journalists working for non-profit print outlets can get the same credentials as their for profit peers. Last I heard, they can't.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:31 PM
Like how Senator Cardin, offering testimony from the other side of the dais today, needed a bit of coaching to use the testifying microphone.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:34 PM
Senator Cardin, after name dropping the bankrupt Baltimore Sun, says that he appreciates the internets: “Yes, I do think that Google and Yahoo and blogs are important. I do!”
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:36 PM
Sen. Thune's daughters "don't read newspapers, live on Internet."
Posted by Liz Cox Barrett on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:36 PM
It has been pretty interesting to see the conventional wisdom on journalism’s crisis—long debated in conferences and in publications like CJR—has wafted all the way up to Congress.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:38 PM
As a man who's sitting in the other room, I have no idea what's being said in the hearing. But with noted winner John Kerry on the case, I have no doubt that our industry's problems will soon be solved!
Posted by Justin Peters on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:39 PM
Cardin says newspaper independence is critical—and that allowing them to become non-profits wouldn’t interfere with that. Concedes that they'd have to stop endorsing candidates.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:40 PM
Google’s Marissa Mayer apparently co-chairs some Knight sponsored confab on the information needs of democracy. News to me—it wasn’t in a recent 2,900 word New York Times profile of her. (Though over at The Audit, Ryan noted that there was a lot missing from that profile.)
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:44 PM
Mayer says: “Each individual article must be self sustaining.” Eeek. That’s a problem. Lots of necessary vital information can’t draw a cash market.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:46 PM
Steve Coll, glasses off for testimony, "celebrates...the World Wide Web."
Posted by Liz Cox Barrett on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:47 PM
C-SPAN is IDing Coll as a New Yorker staff writer, not as head of the New America Foundation, the journalism supporting non-profit he leads.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:50 PM
David Simon is coming across as a bulldog.
Posted by Jane Kim on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:56 PM
Wire creator David Simon describes himself as a newspaper man, but says that he doesn’t buy into Martyr complex of the paper solons, nor the bright future promised by web triumphialists.
“Plague on both their houses.”
I expected iconoclasm from him, and he’s delivering. (Want more? Listen to his talk at Columbia last year)
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:57 PM
Simon: "The term citizen journalism strikes my ears as Orwellian."
Posted by Liz Cox Barrett on Wed 6 May 2009 at 03:59 PM
When Simon complains about the death of coverage of valuable civic institutions like police departments, he knows what he’s talking about. Here’s an excellent piece he wrote in
January 2008 March for The Washington Post on tracking down the facts behind a very fishy police shooting in his beloved Baltimore.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:01 PM
Simon: "a non-profit model intrigues."
Posted by Liz Cox Barrett on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:01 PM
"A newspaper that might have mattered enough to charge for content online may have disappeared," says David Simon, decrying the shrinking of his old paper, The Baltimore Sun.
Posted by Katia Bachko on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:02 PM
Simon backs non-profit initiatives, and a relaxing of anti-trust rules so publishers can collude online.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:02 PM
Alberto Ibarguen, president of the Knight Foundation, coming after Simon, makes the point that nothing Congress can do is more important than providing universal digital access. The barriers he ticks off: economic, generational, and geographical.
Posted by Jane Kim on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:08 PM
Widespread access to the Web is essential for the future of journalism and newspapers is essential says Aberto Ibarguen of the Knight Foundation. "Affordable, digital access to every American" should be a priority of Congress.
Posted by Katia Bachko on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:09 PM
Dallas Morning News CEO and Publisher James Moroney says that Congress can do three things to help newspapers:
1.Pass Bacchus-Snow bill, more info TK
2. Enact-anti trust exemption, as discussed by others
3. Help newspapers get "reasonable compensation from internet operators"
Posted by Katia Bachko on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:16 PM
James Moroney, the publisher of the Dallas Morning News just referred to Arianna Huffington as an "Internet Operator."
Picture her (or Tracy Ulman) in front of a switchboard, saying, "Helloo? How may I direct your traffic?"
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:16 PM
Huffington: "What can't work is to pretend that the last ten years never happened." Followed by a Jeff Jarvis quote and one from Greek philosopher Heraclitus about not being able to step into the same river twice.
Posted by Liz Cox Barrett on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:17 PM
Ariana Huffington says “Ubiquity is the new exclusivity.” Which means, what exactly? Twitter is the new black? I dunno...
Posted by Katia Bachko on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:18 PM
JFK's first question to Simon:
You blame the lack of pay walls: but what about the WSJ?
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:21 PM
Kerry says he's "interested" in the anti-trust relax fix.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:24 PM
"We've had far too many autopsies, and not enough biopsies," Huffington says, referring to two big stories that the press (with some honorable exceptions, she notes) missed: the run-up to the war in Iraq, and the coverage leading up to the financial meltdown. Certainly not quite as cryptic as the ubiquity/exclusivity comment, but as far as oddly (irritatingly?) catchy goes...
Posted by Jane Kim on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:24 PM
Google's Mayer says that it's still early in the search for equilibrium. Suggests that online news will likely need to be subscription and advertising base, like cable, magazines, and newspapers.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:28 PM
Kerry: "this parasite issue is real."
Posted by Liz Cox Barrett on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:30 PM
Huffington mentions the thousands of blogs on her site--original content--that they make available for others to like. That is, of course, original content they take on a volunteer basis.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:31 PM
Moroney says it would take 600 million to run his paper, the Dallas Morning News, as a non profit. Emphasizes that it it's important to preserve the newsroom, not the newspaper, but that so far it's the newspaper carrying the bulk of the newsroom.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:35 PM
Shorter Arianna: Aggregators drive traffic. Monetize it, fools!
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:38 PM
David Simon and Sen. Claire McCaskill share a "package" joke moment.
Posted by Liz Cox Barrett on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:40 PM
Moroney takes the mic and asks Mayer how much of the 500 million that GoogleAd has doled out to publishers goes to newspaper publishers. Kerry passes the baton to Claire McCaskill, and we get no response.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:41 PM
Sen. McCaskill says that just like she can list the "good teachers" she's had in her life, she could easily list the "good journalists..." Go on....?
Posted by Liz Cox Barrett on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:44 PM
David Simon: "The day I encounter a Huffington Post reporter at a Baltimore zoning board ..."
Huffington holds up a finger, asking to be called on. When she gets her shot, she says HuffPo will expand into the Charm City "for your sake."
"Can't wait," says Simon.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:45 PM
Ex-tech exec Maria Cantwell thinks there are too many hoops to online subscriptions. Also wants discounts on coffee.
Wish I knew what the hell she was talking about.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:51 PM
Sen. McCaskill says that while Huffington's newly formed investigative team may do good work, it won't help with local investigative reporting, which is what's really struggling. Which, all said, is very true.
Posted by Jane Kim on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:54 PM
Simon on "hurling" content onto the internet for free: "It's insane."
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:55 PM
Steve Coll has not been asked a question. Big mistake, Senate. Big mistake.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 04:57 PM
Arkansas's Mark Pyror probes Moroney on the anti-trust exemption. Moroney says it should be limited in scope and time.
Interesting to note that Arkansas's Democrat Gazette is one of the few papers running an online pay wall.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:01 PM
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar's dad, Jim, was a reporter then an columnist. Now he's a blogger.
Has cute anecdotes about calling Wisconsin for Kennedy, interviewing Reagan and Ginger Rogers.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:09 PM
Klobuchar name checks MinnPost, Likes it, but doesn't know if organizations it can support investigative reporting. (Like the time that her dad went undercover as a prisoner for a week.)
She leaves shortly after to take a phone call from her governor. Jokes there's just one senator from her state right now, after all.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:12 PM
Ugh. Kerry is trying to explain and grasp how traffic, links, hits, and ads work. It’s not quite like saying the Internet is a “series of tubes,” but it’s ugly.
Google’s Meyer corrects him diplomatically. “That’s not quite right.”
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:17 PM
Kerry says that Huffington is dependent on others' content--and asks Arianna why it isn't it in HuffPo's interest to help support that content?
She says it is.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:19 PM
David Simon likes the word "equivocation." He's said it at least twice.
In any case, it's not hard to see that he thinks his panel colleagues are, um, equivocators.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:22 PM
Huffington says that pay models are as antiquated as stone tablets in the days of Gutenberg.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:23 PM
Moroney says the best deal the Dallas Morning Newshas been able to get from Kindle is 70% to Amazon, and rights to license the content to any portable device.
That's not going to work for him.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:31 PM
Simon, with hand outstretched: "This is all over but the shouting."
Posted by Jane Kim on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:34 PM
Justin Peters just stopped by and observed that if you added Coolio, this panel would look like an episode of "Real Time with Bill Maher."
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:34 PM
You probably could have used Cover It Live for a much more productive liveblog. CiL accepts tweets, moderator comments, and moderated comments. On top of that its easily embedded into your post instead of the comments. Just a thought for next time.
Great content though. Really interesting stuff.
Posted by formerlyanonymous on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:36 PM
There’s been a simmering factual debate running through the whole panel which just came to a head: are newspapers currently talking about colluding/price fixing or not?
Arianna says they are. Moroney and Simon say not really.
As best I know, the later are right.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:37 PM
Steve Coll speaks!
“I don’t share Ms. Huffington’s enthusiasm about citizen journalism … but I applaud her innovation.”
Now he encourages taking a hard look at revitalizing and giving greater resources to local public broadcasters, already existing in virtually every community: "The wiring is already there."
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:40 PM
Coll, speaking finally, says it's not about big vs. small press engines, but about how to preserve the public interest. Simon chimes in to agree.
Posted by Jane Kim on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:42 PM
@formerlyanonymous: You're probably right. I've seen it used elsewhere, and it's pretty neat.
We'll look into it and see if it will work for us next time.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:49 PM
What is it with unnecessary pluralization of communication technology and our senior senators? Bill Nelson just complained about the shouting on "the cables."
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:51 PM
Clint and all,
Great content and live blog here. I'd like to mention that from the perspective of a younger journalist, Mayer sticks out here as someone who has a complete grasp of new and emerging media. Starkly in contrast are the people who are running our country.
I've used Cover it Live for events before, and I second formerlyanonymous.
Thanks for the content and coverage.
Posted by Connor Sattely on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:54 PM
Former Miami Herald publisher (and Knight big wig) Alberto Ibarguen has often brought up the digital divide through out the panel. Worth keeping in mind that many many citizens are not or haven't been able to follow news to the web.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 05:56 PM
Kerry starts his conclusion. Evokes ghosts of Woodward, Bernstein, and Watergate. That was local reporting, he says.
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 06:00 PM
“It may well be that Ms. Huffington has created the new model,” says Kerry.
Promises to continue conversation with the Rules Committee on accreditation.
And that's a wrap!
Posted by Clint Hendler on Wed 6 May 2009 at 06:04 PM
Kerry in his closing comes back to the credentialing of web sites, calling it an "important way to augment accountability."
Posted by Jane Kim on Wed 6 May 2009 at 06:05 PM