Why Journalists Should Know their Biz

By · Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

A report coming out today concludes that journalists need to know the relationship between their audiences and their online models. That report, written by researchers at Columbia University, is the topic of a story in today’s New York Times.

The intention of the report is to help journalists fully reap the monetary benefits of their work in television, print and online. One way, the report suggests, is for universities to offer courses in the economics of journalism, something that Columbia already does.

In recent years, monetizing the Web has been a goal. Pay walls have gone up, and the success of those walls is still to be determined.

The Columbia report, however, suggests a different approach, which would take journalists out of their comfort zones and into the realm of advertising. It is not a new concept. But it might be time. (Northwestern’s name change to add “integrated marketing” to “journalism” illustrates just how emotional our business — and any change — can be.)

We always tell student journalists when they set out to report a story: Know your audience; get out of your comfort zone; see the big picture. Basically, that’s what the Columbia report suggests, and we agree. To not do that, especially today, is to see only part of the picture, to continue working in an environment that does not make money for work produced and to ignore a vital part of the all-important audience out there.

Will it happen? That depends on the state of academe as well as on the state of the digital and print industry. If we aren’t working together already, then now is the time to start.

Emilie Davis

Comments are closed.