[chinese blood, irish heart] - DEFUNCT: Internet & Journalism 5- Online Journalism=Profitable?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Internet & Journalism 5- Online Journalism=Profitable?

Advertising is one of the main driving forces behind profitable and therefore successful journalism platforms. It pays the bills including reporter’s salaries in almost all news organisations. With the advent of the internet, advertisers now have a greater choice than ever. By utilising self-serve tools such as Google’s Adsense and Yahoo! Overture, they can bypass sales staff and post their advertisements on websites directly. "There are some very large companies that have become large because of the scale that they offer and the conglomeration of that scale," said Brian Axe, product manager for Google's AdSense. "The web is so efficient that it can break up that conglomeration... and provide power to the individual who can't get that scale on their own but can get that scale through an automated [advertising] solution." The placement of ads is triggered by certain keywords and is entirely automated. It has been so successful that Google has earned over $800 million in the last 3 months of 2004. Yep, the money’s in search engines.

As for online news websites, attracting advertisers is more difficult. To be truly successful, news websites must have ‘high curiosity quotient that anticipates and predict trends that break news and offer scoops, smart analysis or irreverent commentary’- David Shook of This is the kind of high impact, original journalism that will attract advertisers. Although there are plenty of free news websites out there, subscription based sites are by default of much greater quality (although that would be fiercely debated). Just ask yourself, would you prefer to read articles from a subscription based site that employs professional journalists and has secure financial backing? Or would you rely on free alternative news uploaded by pseudo-journalists? Both have their own qualities and weaknesses but whatever your choice is, advertisers will get you!

Many media analysts such as Joe Marren states that online journalism must be profitable in order to survive. I do not agree as such because there is one genuine factor that professional journalists cannot offer: first-person perspective. In my opinion, an ordinary civilian in a war-torn country, armed with a digital camera and internet access can provide so much more given his/her emotional attachment. In this case, warblogs have been proven very popular. And take the case of Indymedia, a free publishing news site that fills the gap that mainstream news neglects. With Indymedia’s popularity, it has even asserted itself as a platform to mobilize marches and protests against unfair issues, the most recent ones in Ireland being the anti-war demonstrations and Global Women’s Strike.

Advocates of profitable journalism say that news sites multiply uncontrollably on the web like infectious agents and most are pure crap, while proper, professional news sites are the only genuine sources. Sure professional news websites can prostitute themselves to advertising and rate themselves according to the almighty profit. The quest for wealth has corrupted mankind for a *very* long time, from Judas Iscariot to God-knows-who-at-this-moment. Advertisers and all those who bow before it are the real infectious agents.