Why Are Bloggers 50 Times More Efficient Than Newspapers?

Aug 25th, 2008 | By | Category: Commentary

SusanG at The Daily Kos points out an interesting discussion in U.S. News & World Report’s Washington Whispers column:

Rocked by warnings that it will cost news organizations $50,000 more per reporter to cover Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. John McCain, a growing number of journalists and press pundits are questioning why the media is staffing up coverage of the political conventions where little major news is expected. At least one paper and several Washington bureaus, we’re told, have budgeted only $100,000 for political coverage, and their convention teams will eat most of it, leaving little to put reporters on the campaign trail.

She adds:

There is no calculus in the known universe that can justify nearly 50 times the cost (unless newspaper management, in talking to Washington Whispers, fudged a bit and didn’t pro-rate its annual costs).

What it does reflect is either management lying to reporters about how much they “burden” the outlet, or businesses that truly are the cumbersome, establishment, jacked-up-expense-report outfits they appear to be. Neither explanation bodes well for the future of traditional media, and visions of behemoth, slow-responding dinosaurs and scurrying little mammals come to mind.

This is a huge question for traditional news media to address.

There are a thousand reason why traditional news coverage costs a lot more than blogs – but when more and more people turn to the Web for their news, many of those reasons don’t matter.

In the long run, the most successful media sources probably won’t be traditional media or bloggers, but media organizations that combine economies of scale that traditional media can offer with the stripped-down efficiency of blogging and Internet media.

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