Looking forward to the future of journalism

Stop the presses: Blogger laments decline of mainstream media

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Randy Bear, one of the more thoughtful bloggers in the San Antonio area, lamented the slow decline of newspapers and cautioned his readers yesterday that blogs aren’t authoritative:

Bloggers such as myself don’t have the time to invest in vetting stories to make sure the information is completely accurate. In many cases I rely on traditional media to do that work and just add a perspective on the story. I also don’t have the skills reporters are taught in school and on the job about reporting as accurately as possible.

You don’t read commentary like this very often in the blogosphere, and frankly, Randy is selling himself short here. I for one find his blog interesting. But he hits on a key problem for bloggers interested in digging up the truth: Time — or the lack of it.

A reporter has the luxury of getting paid to work full-time at uncovering information. Not a whole lot of bloggers can say that, and that’s why newspapers, for all their faults, are still important civic institutions. Newspapers are able to pay many reporters a full-time salary to go forth and tell the public what’s going on in a complicated world. My bosses pay me to spend weeks, even months, to talk to sources, dig through records and analyze data to find good stories. Sometimes, those stories really make a difference.

So as newsroom budgets across the country are being slashed and thousands of journalists lose their jobs, the key challenge is finding an economic model that supports the expense of paying truth-seekers to dig up important stories.

So I say to Randy: Keep up the good work — and let’s figure out a way to make money off this Internet thing and support good journalism.