``I must give him his due. He has considerably cretinized me.'' Lautréamont

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Scoops, Impact or Glory: What Motivates Reporters? (NYT)

Business darwinism overlooked.

The product of the news biz is not news.

It is you.

They sell you to advertisers.

People say they want hard news, but they don't (think city council meetings).

They only tune in for big one-off events.

So most people cannot be sold to advertisers.

Instead, the business model caters to the largest reliable demographic to be had, namely soap opera women.

It's a minority of even women, 40%, but a large one.

They're easy to attract - they tune in day in and day out, so long as there is soap opera news.

Familiar story lines, familiar crises, cartoon dilemmas.

The keys : inner struggle, soul searching and everlasting frustration.

This audience, a minority of a minority but a lot of people, edits the nation's news and restricts every public debate.

If they can't support the news biz, there is no alternative business model, and the news biz will disappear.

Blogs are the reaction of the rest of the population, but you can't build a business on that diverse group.

What motivates reporters is really a question of what motivates the surviving reporters.

The sensible ones, the ones who rebel against soap opera reduction, went out of business.

You might as well inquire what motivates soap opera women.

A dysfunction of one kind or another.

Same with journalists today.


Based on the hundreds of reporters with whom I’ve worked and competed, I’ve sorted out several major driving forces — and considered the potential dangers to good journalism those forces can present.


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