In most media, advertising is the principal revenue stream journalism paddles. The recent State of the News Media report pointed to a disturbing phenomenon, the decoupling of advertising and news, as a result of new digital formats and a diminution of conventional media ad placement.
Which raises the important question: How will we pay for the significant public-interest journalism when the underwriter absents the scene?
Edward Wasserman, a Knight professor in journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University, has an interesting Miami Herald column with three points of attack:
1. Play the pro-am game more often. Use experts to create more content.
2. Charge for vanity press. When you think of how many events are staged for newsrooms, they constitute one of the largest drains on resources. Wasserman thinks these publicity moves should be billed as advertising and the attention-seekers sent an invoice for services rendered.
3. Focus on niche models that can earn large revenue, which in turn can be used for basic journalism.
He's right in many respects: The business model for journalism is in high stress and unlikely to improve without some new approaches. His blow them up.