Wednesday, January 16, 2002

On Salon

But what about Salon, the last bastion of truly independent journalism that remains unconrrupted by corporate parents, if you believe it's marketers. When Salon launched its premium service, I has I hard time buying the line, "If you don't support Salon, you're not a true bleiever in independent journalism." I had no idea there was a linkage between people's passion for journalism, and the viability of Salon's silly business model, but maybe I'm dense. Anyway, the bloggers have shown that there is indeed a place for independent commentary, that doesn't require oodles of capital.

Does this mean we're destined to all our reporting coming from the corporate giants? I think so. News coverage, expecially of foreign events, is always going to be a "loss leader" for the networks and news organization. The incremental revenue from sending a reporter to some foreign country isn't going to cover the costs. Still, it's important that they do this so they can say they're a big time outfit. (Ever notice how your local TV news channels brag about how "we are there", even if the reporter's presence adds nothing to the story). It's the same reason FOX pays so much money for the NFL -- major league sports = major league network.

But if news is all you have to sell, then your loss leader become just a loss. Which explains why Salon had to diversify into cultural commentary, advice, "sex", etc. That's nice, but people still weren't willing to pay for it, since you could find similar things all over the 'Net. You can't go anywhere else for the New York Times Book Review, Friends, or local traffic reports. Salon fell because people aren't willing to pay for the one unique thing it had to offer -- indepenent (or non-big-corporate) news reporting.
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