For a solid week now, media types have been discussing the ethical and economic quandaries of asking writers to write for free. For—oh, about a decade and a half now, at least—media types have been discussing how the internet might affect the longstanding economic model of journalism as an industry. Now, one of most highly credentialed media thinkers in America weighs in with a proposal: Hey, someone should do something about that.
L. Gordon Crovitz is the former publisher of the WSJ, who stepped down in 2007, but still writes a column for the paper. Today—not several years ago, but today!—Crovitz asks, "What happens to in-depth reporting in the age of the blog post?"
Real interesting question, L. Gordon. We are salivating to hear the expertise of a man who is a highly paid media industry advisor and board member of several media companies. Let's jump right to your conclusion:
The tumult in the news industry is driven by declines in advertising revenues. Readers still value news, both light blog posts and in-depth reporting. Some journalism will be unpaid, but the kind that makes a difference-that finds and questions Pol Pots and drug lords-will continue to cost money. We need to find ways of paying for it.
"We need to find ways of paying for it."—the complete proposal of a man who actually co-founded a company dedicated to helping newspapers make money off online readers. (The fact that he is writing vague columns about the problem years later will tell you how successful his company was at solving the problem in question.)