Charlie Gibson doesn’t get it either, really, and Mark Biggs calls him out on it:
Gibson began with a somber rehash of newspapers cutting jobs and going out of business. “The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is gone — gone,” he said with dramatic effect.
After blaming young people for getting their news online for free, he went on to blame Google (and his “good friend Eric Schmidt”) and even threw citizen journalists under the bus at one point.
Fortunately, during the Q&A, a couple of students resisted the star-struck approach of other questioners and asked him to account for such statements. One even asked Gibson to respond to Clay Shirky’s suggestion that we don’t need newspapers, we just need journalism. Gibson replied that Shirky is “full of crap” and that we are a “long way away” from any web site being able to provide the complete package of news and information in the form of a financially sustainable business like newspapers of the past 30 years.
Gibson is looking for an exact replica of the New York Times online that generates the same revenue as the print product did 15 years ago. He wants the complete package on one web site, apparently only able to recognize greatness by largesse. What if that same quality journalism found on different sections of the Times web site today were actually separate web sites that were each profitable in their own right? How is that less important, effective or trustworthy than one organization that offers all of them?
I see a future where foreign reporting, local news, political coverage, business news, sports, arts coverage and more will thrive on separate sites, possibly under separate ownership. And this won’t be a problem for the user since aggregation makes it easy to get this as one package.
The other issue is Gibson doesn’t lay the blame where it belongs.
When the Seattle Post-Intelligencer goes web only they readily admit that any indepth reporting, any long exposes and real journalism will no longer happen at the SPI. They’re all going to become bloggers.
But why? It’s not because that’s what people want and will pay for on the web. Hell, if that was the case J’s Notes would be making me tons of monies.
No, newspapers and other media, if you’re going to make money you have got to offer a product worth paying for and advertising on. You guys can do the indepth reporting bloggers generally can not because you have the training and the resources. Don’t imitate us, WE’RE NOT MAKING ANY MONEY!
Specialize, find what you do well and knock it out of the park. Politico can make it work profitably, so can the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and even Charlie Gibson.