The new new journalism
Last weekend, The New York Times launched the new “Global Edition” version of its website, collapsing the contents of the Times-owned International Herald Tribune into the site’s front page. The appearance of Times Global is an ominous sign for the future of foreign reportage — one of the strongest indicators yet that international news is now unable to stand on its own feet. With all but four major US newspapers having shuttered their foreign bureaus, and large financial backers disappearing, new business models have cropped up to respond to the crisis.
One of the most closely watched new ventures is GlobalPost, a for-profit site founded by former Boston Globe correspondent Charles Sennott. The site’s contributors include freelance journalists based all over the world (a slightly more professional version of the “citizen journalism” model), and it relies on syndication, advertising, and subscriptions for its revenue. GlobalPost not only allows subscribers to purchase selected materials, but also to make editorial suggestions on which topics to cover. In the not-for-profit realm, blogs and Twitter feeds are subsidizing much of the insta-news (remember the real-time coverage of the Mumbai attacks?), while sites such as Global Voices and AlterNet are taking the lead in compiling and analyzing underreported issues.
Free news may be flourishing, but it is unlikely to last forever. As ad revenue dries up and news outlets conclude that popularity and prosperity aren’t necessarily synonymous, the construction of a new business model is the logistical feat looming over the future of the news. It is a question that will have to be resolved sooner rather than later.