I have long felt that REAL information of integrity requires real investment–that often is not seen in the financial interests of the media companies who pay the salaries. Now is an era of new models. I would be interested to hear other’s thoughts on Mitch Ratcliffe’s blog on “the economics of great journalism”
In the simplest scenario, then, what does an independent journalism supported by the users of information, as compared to being designed to support the producer-of-informationâ€™s advertisers, look like?
How about this? Pay $1 a month or $12 a year to a reporter who has offered an online â€œcontractâ€ to deliver thorough coverage of a topic. They might ask for more, but theyâ€™d have to sell the idea, just as they do in editorial meetings today. In exchange, youâ€™ll get alerts about new articles and comments by the writer through email, Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed or SMS. Another feature would be a social page of your own, where your input to the feed is available, delivered to the reporter for their thoughts, and your own feeds to share with friends. The reporter benefits from these re-feeds by supporters as a form of marketing for their work.
Since this would likely be an entrepreneurial effort, reporters would have to start off building their communities, with the help of early supporters. We could rally around a reporter and get them started with commitments of $1 a month ($0.03 a day). A reporter offering to cover a major federal program that has significant impact on 500 companies and 5,000,000 people should be able to recruit 5,000 supporters after a few months.
Using the costs described above, the break-even point for a $130,000-salaried reporter would be 15,000 readers. Thatâ€™s well within the realm of possibility for a reporter supported by a non-profit that lists their offerings and ensures payments will be fulfilled. Assuming that reporters will be subscribing to other reporters, some of this needs to be kick-started by the members of the â€œnew pressâ€ finding one another.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” ~Albert Einstein
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