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The growth of advertising investment within the press influenced the commercialization of the news. Many argue, and I agree, corporate ownership and the increase of commercialization within news reporting limits news stories to what sells.  Market-driven newspapers refine journalism practices and cover stories that increase business investment. Significant interest gaps between mainstream newspapers and readers result.  Mainstream commercial newspapers do not provide readers with immediately relevant news.  The Project for Excellence in Journalism reveal in the State of the New Media Report 2008, that people believe mainstream commercial newspapers’ fail to report the “bread and butter” issues of community.  In the book, Blog!: How the Newest Media Revolution is Changing Politics, Business, and Culture, authors argue mainstream newspapers present homogenized news stories leaving readers “thirsty for real, unfiltered information.”

People turn to independent online news sources, such as news blogs, for information they believe Big Media fails to present.  In 2006, 37 percent of all Americans went online to read and engage with user-generated content.  The Project for Excellence in Journalism indicates a significant increase in the number of people creating web pages to report on issues affecting their cities, communities, and neighborhoods.  Blog writers have the freedom to report on issues they believe the mainstream press neglects.  Online news blogs provide an alternative to mainstream newspapers and give writers the ability to remain relatively independent of commercial pressures.  

The business model of national and city newspapers are failing.  Newspapers’ three revenue sources: sales, subscriptions and advertising, are weakening.  This week’s Screencast ignited some class conversations related to the influence of the dollar on news quality.  Dan Gillmore discusses “business models for tomorrows personal journalism” (chapter 7).  Gillmore believes blogging not only provides readers with an alternative news source, but a refreshing change to the vertical, highly regulated business structure of Big Media.  Blogging presents a horizontal structure.  Blog writers are motivated by the creation of a participatory conversation with their readers, not the dollar.  Gillmore argues, freelance writing strengthens one’s credentials, and validates their authority on a niche topic.

Blogger, Scott Karp asks what will happen to the ad dollars that once flowed into city newspapers.  Karp points out that newspapers are not only competing with websites for money, but also for survival.  He asks great questions that Big Media needs to answer if they want to compete in the digital age.  TIME magazine also covered the financial crisis facing newspapers.  Although more people read newsmagazines and newspapers, fewer and fewer people are paying for news information.  Traditionally, newspapers have relied mostly on advertising for revenue, but as ad dollars leave newspapers, not only are business investors in jeopardy, but so is the news itself.  The traditional business model supporting newspapers must adapt to stay afloat. 

Despite the original intent of blog style journalism to remain non-commercial, I wonder about the sustainability of a commercially neutral blogosphere.  Will news blog content change as advertising dollars spill into the blogosphere and as marketers recognize the growing appeal of popular blog sites?  How will Big Media begin to compete for ad dollars in the digital age?  How are advertisers interpreting and reacting to alternative online news sites?

A shift towards commercial ownership may jeopardize writers’ ability to remain relatively independent of commercial pressure and may affect the news stories found on blog sites. Although, the future for print newspapers and newsmagazines seem dismal, the changing business model may offer writers (professional or freelance) liberation.  Journalists will have the opportunity to serve the public reader not the ad dollar.  If bloggers really are writing to bolster their credentials and increase reader credibility (like Gillmore says), maybe bloggers really can escape the effects of commercialism and keep a genuine conversation going.  

Also check out what Jeff Jarvis thinks about news, post-print at  http://www.buzzmachine.com/2009/02/04/newsosaurs-roar/  

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