‘Entrepreneurial Journalism’ was one of the buzzwords of the last year. As journalism needs to adapt to a new medium, we need to explore a new economical situation. I wonder, however, if recently we sort of ‘carried economies to the extremes’. Is ‘how to make money on the internet’ all that we want from digital journalism?
Journalism is obliged to report to the public, and therefore needs to make money. But as entrepreneurial journalists, the market comes first. Hence, we follow a logic of efficiency, instead of being concerned about society and truthfully reporting. Reading this excellent article by Claire Bishop on the effect of the cuts in the UK opened my eyes. In fact, education and journalism have a lot in common: they both used to address common sense, now they are re-defined to address a market. (And they are re-defined to address a market, not forced.)
Is market the new common sense?
For those who aren’t aware of it, from 2014 on the British university funding of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences will stop. The departments will be forced to follow a market logic meaning their teachers get no public funding; instead they will be paid for by student fees that for this reason will be raised.
Pitched by David Cameron as a “dramatic redistribution of power from elites in Whitehall to the man and woman on the street,” his “Big Society” is basically a laissez faire model of government dressed up as an appeal to foster, how Cameron put it, “a new culture of voluntarism, philanthropy, social action”. Here, Claire Bishop is right in pointing out: this isn’t more capacity to act, it is just is sold as it. You pay, you choose. Fine. But what if you can’t pay?
Once this society believed that democracy is established upon reason, and not money. Thanks to journalism’s critical reporting, you could inform yourself and be part of a political debate. Also, education was a way to give everyone the same chance in this society. You didn’t need money for it, but keep your head. Today, both spheres seem to have lost this function for society. Instead, they follow the logic of the market.
Journalism was always of value because it was more than just entrepreneurial. We need to stop asking how we can make money on the internet. Looking at the internet, publishers should ask themselves how they can generate new jobs, not money, while journalists should aim for a better truthful reporting.
Claire Bishop: Con-demmed to the Bleakest of Futures. Report from the UK. On eflux journal #22.
Jean-Léon Gerôme, Slave-Auction, Hermitage , St Petersburg, Russian Federation