Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The journalist marketplace

I've been having an online amble around Journalism Shop and wondering how long before something similar opens in the UK.

This is what the founders have to say about themselves:

Over the past couple of years the Los Angeles Times and its corporate owner, Tribune, have undergone an epic financial crunch which has led to the jettisoning of hundreds of veteran journalists. We are some of them. Our ranks include veteran political journalists, fashion writers, award-winning investigative journalists and a wide raft of the invisible folks of newspapers - line editors, copy editors, page designers and researchers. We are mainly based in Southern California but have members scattered widely -- Washington, D.C., Illinois, Virginia, Arizona and even Taiwan.

The Los Angeles Times' loss can be your gain. Our interests range from freelance magazine journalism to book writing, deep project research to report design and writing. We encourage you to tap into our vast reservoir of experience and skill to bring to your own projects the caliber of journalism that helped make the Los Angeles Times one of the nation's top newspapers.
"

I'm interested to see how this develops; I wonder sometimes if the future of journalism will be made up of freelancers who support themselves by selling articles, but who are in turn hired in by media companies to work on specific stories.
After all, the on-costs would be minimal and companies would save huge amounts in recruitment and retention, and pensions, not to mention in the training of staff (of course, news companies could even could start running - and charging - training courses).
On the flip side, what price do you put on loyalty, commitment, quality of employees with know abilities?

I suppose there would be an element of practicality in purchasing the time of a specifically-skilled journalist for a specific story. A specialist health journalist, for example, could find themselves booked to work on upcoming hospital league table figures, with a brief to invesgitate and return two days worth of copy (and I'm guessing associated graphics, images, podcasts or video reporting too).
Such a team would have to suppliment a small core of retained writers - but what would those writers be working for? A publishing company in the broadest sense of the word I'd imagine - print and website, books, video...

Journalism Shop, Spot.Us, Help Me Investigate - they all come back to a common theme - reporters reporting issues that people really are interesteted in, not following other agendas.
There's a lesson here.
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