In the last few years, it's become hard to be a print journalist, with some newspapers going out of business, others mercilessly slashing their newsroom staffs -- there's a general sense of dread around the profession. So what's a reporter to do. "Start a super-successful blog!" sounds great, but it's extraordinarily difficult to do. Everyone is looking for new models for journalists to make a living.
There's an interesting site called Newstilt launching today, which aims to provide one such new model. It's sort of a journalist collective, which will not employ journalists, but will provide a forum for their work and share the profits from advertising. The difference between this and, say, True/Slant, which does something similar with bloggers, is that Newstilt will be focused on newsgathering -- with editing and everything. They took applications from journalists, and chose 30 who would make up the contributors to the site.
Will it be successful? Who knows. But you have to give them points for ambition. Blogging isn't easy, but it is something many people with day jobs find themselves able to do in their spare time. But newsgathering is much more labor-intensive. In theory, you could duplicate this model on a local level, or with particular interest areas. The question will be whether it will generate enough revenue so the Newstilt reporters will be able to make a living this way. I have to say I'm skeptical, but let's hope so. Anything that keeps reporters off the streets (or on the streets, as it were) is a good thing.
-- Paul Waldman