A Golden Era For Journalism?

By Ben Cohen

Jack Shafer makes the argument that we could be verging on a golden era for journalism:

Let me say it another way: The barriers of entry into the journalism

business have been battered down, making it easier than ever to enter

the profession. That will read as small consolation to the journalists

who have had their publications shot out from under them—the Rocky Mountain News,the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Ann Arbor News (come July 23), and magazines too numerous to tally. But please notice that I’m not saying there has never been a more lucrative or prestigious time

to become a journalist. The cash and status associated with the

profession are fairly recent. Until the early 1970s or thereabouts, the

average journalist made an average salary (if that), and his societal

standing was modest.

If the downside of the battered-down barriers to entry is less pay and lower status, the potential

upside is that a flood of new entrants into the field could portend a

journalistic renaissance. No, I’m not saying that every junior blogger

and pint-size videographer will immediately stand as tall as Barton

Gellman and Errol Morris and that the Washington Post and NBC

News should be flushed. But journalism has generally benefited by

increases in the number of competitors, the entry of new and

once-marginalized players, and the creation of new approaches to

cracking stories.

From a personal point of view, Shafer’s analysis seems sound, but untill the blogosphere figures out how to effectively monetize its content, bloggers will continue to write as a hobby, not a profession. And that means lower quality, and less substance. Not good for journalism as a whole.

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.