Journalism and the news industry are at a critical crossroads.
It reminds me of the early days of the Internet when downloading free music from file sharing websites such as Napster and Kazaa was a common practice. There was no need to purchase the CDs of the music you wanted to listen to anymore.
Just a few simple clicks and you could obtain any music that your heart desired, free of charge.
My recollection is that this went on for quite awhile before it was well known that this practice of downloading free music was illegal. Even when it was well known that it was illegal, people had become accustomed to this new and affordable option and the practice continued, causing major financial issues in the music industry during that time.
I remember thinking that the music industry was doomed. Why would artists continue making music if they’ve lost their ability to earn money from what they create? Thankfully, Steve Jobs invented iTunes, a legal way to download music for a fee and regulators cracked down on the file sharing websites. The music industry survived and is again thriving but was forever changed.
At this point in time the Internet is absolutely flooded with news content that you can access, free of charge. The vast majority of this news is created by traditional media outlets such as CNN or the Western Wheel but the advertising revenue that used to pay for the newsrooms that do the actual reporting has been siphoned off by Internet giants such as Google and Facebook.
I certainly don’t have all the answers but if the solution is similar to the music industry evolution, it will take a combination of government regulation and technological innovation to create long-term financial sustainability in the news media industry.