Tuesday, September 23, 2014

10 Easy Ways to Save Journalism

Some months ago, The Economist ran a column about business schools. The tagline was: “Business schools are better at analyzing disruptive innovation than at dealing with it.”
Sounds familiar, I thought. Ditto the media.
For an industry with crummy financials, the newsgathering business is bizarrely inefficient. Over my 15 years as a journalist, I’ve written for a variety of publications and watched the Internet shake things up. And it’s struck me that for all the hand-wringing about decline, it would actually be very simple to provide more and better news to the public, and to do so more cheaply. All it takes is using a few basic economic and business principles.
So, to add to the conversation created by the excellent New York Times Innovation report and others, herewith 10 easy—easy!—ways that the media can make itself more efficient, from my ground-level perspective. Warning: Not all will be popular with journalists. But this is about creating a better product using less money.
1. Reduce repetition of stories. The universe of possible news is vast and mostly untapped. I’ve argued that most papers in the country could grow to five times their size, given sufficient money and talent. Yet news coverage reflects a herd mentality. Everyone rushes to do their own story on Ray Rice, the latest iPhone, a new fracking study, and so forth.
2. Stop the over-editing.
3. Reduce on-the-scene datelines, as appropriate. 
4. Collaborate.
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