Policy issues Writing

Confessions of a police assassin: fine journalism

The Guardian has a long form, investigative piece detailing confessions of a police assassin which is also a great example of fine journalism. The article is titled “Confessions of a killer policeman” and it definitely falls into what many would consider TL;DR.

Just when people predict the death of good quality, long form journalism, I look to publications like The Guardian that still invest time and money into important work like this.

I don’t always agree with everything The Guardian publishes but this kind of journalism is worth supporting. The Guardian is also one of the many publications testing alternative revenue models. In particular, it offers a membership option where readers can make regular contributions to support the publication and receive more value in the process.

My theory about the future of news is that we will see high quality, investigative journalism become a niche that its readers will pay for as mainstream media skews towards the inane.

I hope I am at least correct that great journalism will survive into the future. The prospect of a world dominated by meaningless clickbait is depressing.

Image credit: Pixabay

Business and work Social Web Writing

Journalism as a service

I just read Jeff Jarvis’ Medium post titled “Returning Scarcity to News” and especially appreciated his argument for journalism as a service, rather than as a commodity content business:

Only when we reconceive of journalism as a service rather than as a factory that churns out a commodity we call content, only when we measure our value not by attention to what we make but instead by the positive impact we have in lives and communities, and only when we create business models that reward quality and value will we build that quality and value.

News and entertainment publishers are increasingly looking to major platforms like Google and Facebook for wider distribution of their content and alternative revenue options. It’s easy to understand why: these platforms have far greater reach than any single publisher and with ad blocking increasingly hurting publishers, they need to do something. And soon.

I’m cautiously optimistic that ad blocking will prove to be a positive trend that forces publishers to focus on better content and improve the overall ecosystem. I think we will have to wait a couple years for business models to settle and the dust to settle before we can draw any conclusions.

Still, I am hopeful that good quality content will win.

I recommend reading the rest of Prof Jarvis’ post on Medium:

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Image credit: kaboompics

Blogs and blogging Mindsets People Writing

Hey IOL, it’s ok to link to Gareth Cliff’s blog post

I just read an article on IOL titled “Gareth Cliff pours out his heart in blog“. I noticed that while IOL mentions Cliff’s “blog post [which he wrote] to share how he feels about M-Net’s decision to fire him”, IOL didn’t bother to link to his actual blog post, titled “While We Were Sleeping  #SparrowGate2“.

Journalism professor (and general expert on matters such as this), Jeff Jarvis wrote the following in his book “Geeks Bearing Gifts” (see his blog post highlighting this, here, and the full chapter of his book, here):

Media people tend to believe that content has intrinsic value — that is why they say people should pay for it and why some object when Google quotes snippets from it. But in an ecosystem of links online, new economics are in force. Online, content with no links has no value because it has no audience. Content gains value as it gains links. That formula was the key insight behind Google: that links to content are a signal of its value; thus, the more links to a page from sites that themselves have more links, the more useful, relevant, or valuable that content is likely to be.

IOL would probably object to people citing its articles without, at the very least, linking back to the source articles. It is only responsible and appropriate that its journalists link to online sources they reference in their articles. Links are the currency of online media (it’s a relatively old concept but it still applies).

When you just take material from someone without the courtesy of a link, at a bare minimum, you devalue their contribution and undermine your own insistence that you be credited for your work. If you don’t want people to exit your site when they click on the link, just modify the link properties to open a new tab or window. If your article is as engaging as you think it is, your reader will stick around and keep reading.

About the article title: This is just me being pedantic. Cliff didn’t pour “his heart in blog”, it is a blog post. The blog is the whole thing. The blog post is the atomic unit of the blog. Like I said, I’m just being pedantic IOL isn’t the only publication that makes that mistake.

Image credit: Chain Links by Unsplash, sourced from Pixabay and released under a CC0 Dedication.