Thomas Jefferson famously said, "If it were left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."
As everyone knows, the traditional journalism model is in trouble.
There's not much profit to be made selling newspapers filled with the same stories that are available for free to readers in a much more convenient format. And today's readership prefers an interaction with the news that papers alone simply can't provide.
Yet, as Jefferson points out, investigative journalism is vital in a democracy. And we're not going to maintain our current level of journalism by laying off reporters, which seems to be the cost-cutting trend.
Filling the void, Howard Kurtz pointed earlier this month, are high-priced newsletters and trade publications. Rather than write for the general public, which is the target of newspapers, these smaller outfits provide content for niche audiences willing to pay large sums for the information.
This jumped at me today as I read the New York Times online and flipped through the Politico, which is delivered to my desk each morning.
The New York Times covered President Obama's call to Congress for a climate change bill not with a staff reporter but with a syndicated article published by ClimateWire, one of those aforementioned high-priced newsletters.
And Politico detailed the lobbying battle over new climate change legislation in a front-page story written not by a staff reporter but by someone at the Center for Public Integrity.
Outsourcing — the future of journalism?