Every professional communicator is challenged each day with the impact of social media on traditional journalism … the process of gathering, verifying and reporting news.

Several months ago, the Cincinnati Enquirer offered buy-outs for senior employees and several dozen signed on.  Trusted and long-term names left that newspaper (some of us fear some part of our local newspaper’s heart and soul walked out the door).

Gannett (Enquirer owner) announced a 10% cut for all of its properties recently and we expect more announcements soon about Enquirer reporters and editors leaving the industry, or at least the paper.

It’s nothing new.  It’s happening everywhere.  It is driven, of course, by the migration of advertising revenue online from the printed page. 

So, the question is, if advertising revenue funded the news gathering, verifying and reporting process, and advertising revenue is migrating online, who is doing the news gathering and verifying before it is reported online?

Today’s NYT reports that the Kaiser Family Foundation is starting a news service (Kaiser Health News) to produce in-depth coverage of the policy and politics of healthcare.

In Cincinnati, an online publication titled “Soapbox” publishes weekly “good news” stories primarily focused on capital projects and community development. 

There are many other examples of user-generated or semi user-generated news.  These sources are hardly unbiased, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are not good sources of information.

I struggle, though.  I still believe that if it’s printed (online or offline), someone smarter and more independent than me checked it out.  I still may not agree or enjoy what I read, but I likely consider it a valid point of view.

I refuse to silo and self-select only the type of news I want to read, or just the news with which I intend to agree.  I fear, though, that I am in a growing minority of news consumers.

My only point to this post is that I, too, am challenged with how to provide the best advice to our clients in light of the lightning pace of change. 

Post by Nick Vehr – 11.24.08