Monday’s Editorial on Newspapers, Weblogs and Linking and the health of the news media industry got a lot of comments. It got a lot of people talking about the vast media ecosystem here in DC, from blogs like us and DCist, to blogs like Wonkette and Gawker, to sites like the Washington Post and Washington Times and Washington City Paper. Like any ecosystem, there’s value in all of the strata, and any extinction level event is going to have consequences for the other players in the system.
I don’t think anyone wants to see Newspapers disappear. I know that I do not. The Washington Post, the Washington Times and the City Paper are both significant employers in the DC area, and important parts of our media ecosystem. As the little players like blogs and more “volunteer”-driven media outlets begin to ramp up their work, and begin to become targets for local eyeballs, possibly at the expense of the larger media world, how do we make sure that we don’t lose important things like civil politics reporters, investigative journalists, and international bureau reporters, without necessarily having to resort to putting everything behind the paywall?
Perhaps it’s time to get all of the players in a room to talk about the issues at play, and how we can support each other in these times. We need to start having a dialogue between the blogs and the newspapers, to see if we can’t share some content, and potentially share some of the revenue, and work on a model for moving good content “up from the minors,” as it were, and to help improve the blogs, by benefitting from the experience and training of the newspapers.
There’s no reason that this has to be a blogs-versus-newspaper competition, and there’s no reason that we can’t sit down together and start to talk openly about how we think the ecosystem needs to evolve in order to protect the jobs that are at stake here. I’m not for media protectionism, mind you, but merely making sure that we don’t lose valuable resources like the City Paper‘s Mike DeBonis, who got those Marion Barry voicemails, or the Post‘s invaluable columnists, or the Capitol Hill coverage of Politico, The Washington Times, Huffington Post and others.
Is this possible? I’m not even sure. I suspect that a lot of this revenue and traffic data isn’t public and probably wouldn’t ever be. But there’s no reason for us not to sit down and start to look at how we move forward as a community of practice, from the professional down to the enthusiast. There’s value in all roles, and how best to mix and match them is still very up in the air.