OK. Here’s the argument:
- News is spread highly effectively by people talking (known in the trade as “word-of-mouth”, or WOM, which – preposterously – can be used as a word, to rhyme with “bomb”).
- WOM is accelerated by social media, such as Facebook, Twitter or social bookmarking. Social media creates WOM on steroids.
- Consequently, the intrinsic value of news diminishes. Newspapers begin to worry about charging for their content (currently, hardly any charge for their web content – though some are experimenting).
- Long-term prognosis for newspapers: unsustainable.
Which is why an announcement today in the UK’s Press Gazette could be very exciting, heralding a new niche for newspaper journalists.
The Potter Foundation, run by Psion founder David Potter, has invested £2m in the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a not-for-profit start-up designed to support investigative, public interest journalism.
In theory, if demand could be created for purely investigative journalism, there could yet be money in them-thar pages. Or screens. Or Kindles. Or whatever device you choose to mention.