This article, on the effort by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar to start a local news service in Honolulu, validates my postion that journalism and the news business are not dead or dying. They are being taken up by a new generation of media outsiders – people who value news and aren’t so burdened by years of “training” in the industry, that they can see new possibilities that may exist. It also helps that they aren’t burdened by an infrastructure built over decades to support old business models.
The article doesn’t say much about Omidyar’s business model – but he intends the service to be for-profit and to generate new contet.
A couple things about this jump out at me – in addition to the obvious fact that it’s at least one more person who’s not willing to give up on the news.
- New news businesses tend to be local – where there is less competition to provide information, and where the advertising crisis has had the least impact.
- The goals of new news businesses are modest; the ones I’m hearing about tend to seek primacy in a small area, to have a good impact on a relatively small number of people, and make a little money in the process.
Which strikes me as a pretty good way to rebuild an industry that is in historic transition.
Years from now, there will be big players again, who have figured out how to consolidate the many small for-profit news operations that are popping up. Some of those big players will be the same names that are familiar in media circles today. Others will be new.
And the news business will look very different from the way it does right now.
But it will be a business and an industry.