In the recent issue of PressTime, Topix CEO Chris Tolles talks about the future of journalism and says,
“I don’t think you’re going to have the same kind of stories that you’d have in traditional papers. Your site should have 100 stories a day, not six. Journalists are going to have to work longer, harder and for less money. Think about blogs – you’re going to have to write 12 stories a day at $25 a pop.”
Lucas Grindley has done a great series of posts on the PressTime article, he responded specifically to this quote, and not necessarily favorable to Chris’s POV.
In my world, most journalists already work long hours. They work hard, and they’re not getting rich. The idea that Tolles would implement worse work-life conditions is baffling. Even worse is Tolles suggestion for how to accomplish this feat of 12 stories per day, per reporter.
I dropped Tolles an e-mail and noted my lack of surprise at the reaction. With his permission, I’m posting his response:
That wasn’t meant as a prescription, as much as a prediction.
I’m looking at Gawker and the like as the stalking horse for whatever the newspaper business is likely to become. Nick is currently paying $12 a post, but modeling out a pay-per-view scenario according to my friends over there.
I’m sure most journalists work hard and don’t get paid much – but the issue here is that newspapers mismanage what they have, and the reporters, eventually, pay by losing their jobs from what I can tell.
Part of my schtick, obviously, is to gore some sacred cow here – but, seriously, reporters need to start caring about how many people read and care about what they write, and measuring themselves in ways that eventually align with the business of gaining audience.
Everybody in journalsim land wants to get the same paper they had with all those monopoly profits, but on the web. I think the paper of the future is going to look a lot more like gawker or curbed, or a topix forum, and a lot less like the NY Times, and the sooner they start building it, the better off we’ll all be for it.
Personally, as a reader of the SF Chronicle, I live in constant fear of my newspaper just disappearing one day, or getting replaced by some clear channelized piece of crap – so not a little bit of this is a wakeup call.
If you cast this whole new media thing as the Reformation, it all makes sense. I’m just trying to point out that it’s in process, and humpty dumpty can’t put back what was lost once those monopoly profits go away.
But you know what they say about the messenger. :-)
Note that Chris left a shorter, similar comment on Lucas’s post, and Lucas responds in the comments.