For someone who can get a bit preachy at times, there’s nothing more embarrassing than falling short of your own professed standards. But when I put in the reference to rumours about redundancies being imminent at the Irish News, I was breaking my own 2 source rule. In fact I’m assured by the Irish News that there are no such plans. Indeed as they rightly point out, their small family run news business has largely been able to pull of the neat trick controlling costs and investing professional journalism. And yet…I was at NVTV last night doing BlogtalkNI. I debated with Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Gary McKeown talking about technological change and the way it is disrupting the traditional journalism business model across the world. Although everyone is talking about the problem, I’m personally pretty upbeat. That the solution is not yet obvious is a condition of where we are on a continuum of change. Not that there is no solution.
My feeling is that we need to focus on where the deficits are in terms of value and then look for ways to fill those gaps and see if we can find ways to get cash money to follow the carefully defined value.
And the answer isn’t blogs. They are about additionality, about giving us a plurality of voices we could not hear before. But by themselves they can not fill the widening news gap. But it is in their networked nature may be part of what defines value in a new media era. As 4IP puts it: networks not broadcasters.
That may sound flip, but I think this can only be done in the first place through a network of strategic partners. No single regional business can be expected spend the required resources on what is effectively a huge open ended R&D project.
But the alternative (ie do nothing and hope it goes away) is not viable either… The wider and more inclusive this debate (the established players, the new players and the public) the sooner we are likely to stumble towards the solution(s)…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty