Why Your Idea to Save Journalism Won't Work (a checklist)


28 Responses to “Why Your Idea to Save Journalism Won't Work (a checklist)”

  1. Itsumishi says:

    Yup also getting the end cut off. Using Firefox on XP.

  2. tsm_sf says:


    I think the original version of this checklist dealt with either email or usenet. It’s OLD and probably predates the web. Slashdot and others riff on it from time to time, but the original is hilarious. Too bad I can’t seem to find a copy =(

  3. Fifth says:

    Needs a line for “craigslist”.

  4. relain says:

    This is a take on a slashdot (i think, or it could be usenet) meme for “reasons why your idea to stop spam won’t work”, such as can be found on Cory’s website http://craphound.com/spamsolutions.txt

  5. Gilgongo says:

    Anyone else using Firefox and can’t see the ends of the lines on this post?

    … destroy anyone else’s career or business
    … trusts and charities are already going bankru

  6. Dewi Morgan says:

    boyfinley: you prettymuch nailed it I think.
    Web-ad revenues must compete with the big boys like Google. Google essentially sets the rates for online ads. Your ads have to be cheaper than Google, because Google *will* reach more eyeballs than you, and *will* be better targeted than you, even if your ads are handpicked to apply to each specific article.

    In the print world, the newspapers are the “big boys” and get to set the going rate. Not so online.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Firefox ain’t cutting it.

  8. Boba Fett Diop says:

    Nice to see that “Rupert Murdoch” has his own line in the checklist.

  9. Inkstain says:

    Fan – wait for it …


    This will save me a lot of time dealing with an industry full of addle-braineds who are convinced they’ve solved everything.

  10. tmdowling says:

    Definitely worth a click-through to the MetaFilter page… there’s more.

    …philosophical objections may also apply:
    ( ) You are Jeff Jarvis
    ( ) Or Dave Winer


  11. Anonymous says:

    Yup, got the Firefox problem too. I’m running a 3.0.14 on Ubuntu Jaunty. Was able to read everthing in the Brief Add-on, but in the actual post, the lines’ ends are missing. I guess that must be the pre tag used within the fixed-width div.

    If you have the problem too, just open the page source to read the actual list. It is very readable there, as there are no HTML tags within.

  12. Roach says:

    Not bad, although calling it “a fundamentally broken business model” may be begging the question a little bit.

  13. Ian_McLoud says:

    What a surprise, another BB post advocating for the downfall of journalism. Seriously, what the fuck…? Why is BB constantly psyched to write journalism’s obit?

  14. boyfinley says:

    I understand that classifieds income is gone & is never coming back, but can anyone explain to me why advertisers aren’t willing to pay as much for a webad as opposed to print ad, despite the fact that the web ad will potentially reach far more eyeballs?

    Genuine question, not a rhetorical one. Is it because the market already set the value of web ads at one far lower than print & the papers don’t have the power to start changing the price by themselves?

    Considering this is a solution that wouldn’t affect readers AT ALL, I don’t know why it isn’t talked about. The audience is online, why don’t advertisers pay equivalent prices to what they’d pay in print/on television?

    • Anonymous says:

      Short answer: display ads in print have traditionally commanded high prices based on total circulation (i.e. potential eyeballs); because web traffic can easily be logged, advertisers now demand rates be based on click-throughs (i.e. actual eyeballs).

      So, yes, the market did set the value of Web ads far lower than print — because a) actual statistics on viewer response were difficult to obtain until the web came along, so b) print ad prices were artificially inflated. File this one under “propping up a broken business model,” as per the checklist above.

  15. ikegently says:

    I’d rather see a list of ways to save journalism, not reasons why you can’t.

  16. yasth says:

    Oh they cut the ways to save list to save space

    Ways to save journalism (comprehensive list):

    Look at all that space they saved

  17. Barney Lerten says:

    Maybe if we keep asking the right questions, the right answers will come. Maybe. So this is a time saver.

    And the problem indeed is, lots of folks want to know what City Council DOES, but few want to sit through it. (Or, as we may be learning, to pay someone to sit through it.)

    Hmm, intelligent filters? Auto-transcription so when your keywords come up (neighborhood, issue) you get a text alert to turn on the video feed, or watch it later?

    Ah technology, tool and weapon, hero and villain all in one. As usual;-)

  18. Anonymous says:

    I believe the original instance of this format may be here: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=87921&cid=7620349

    Credit where due, and all that.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Thank god I have almost all of that figured-out. Seriously.

  20. Sam says:

    This checklist makes regular appearances on the comments of slashdot and other sites around the net.

  21. adamnvillani says:

    The problem is not that you can’t get people to sit in City Council meetings all day, it’s that the ones who do that are all insane.

  22. teufelsdroch says:

    @relain etc

    it’s a riff on heinlein:


    thus its wonderfulness

  23. LX says:

    Technical, marketing or even legal attempts to solve social problems will never work, so these could be ruled out.

    The social or even psychological problem is: the managers of journalism treated their field as a management playground for too long. The result: quality is low (in order to keep the prices down), journalists are mostly underpaid anyway.

    You could say Journalism is choking on bad management. The management wants that we take all their stuff and pay. The consumers don’t want all their stuff, but only specific parts – and usually dont want to pay or if, only small amounts.

    Either the management catches up or will soon be cut out as the middleman as an increasing amount of laid-off professional journalists start their own blogs supported by ads and donations.

    Greetings, LX

  24. Daemon says:

    [ ] requires journalists to care about quality journalism

  25. Anonymous says:

    [ ] requires journalists to write prose that isn’t as dull as dishwater.

  26. Anonymous says:

    To the Firefox guys, if it makes you feel any better, it doesn’t work on IE8, either, not even in compatibility mode. ;)

    Boyfinley: your idea runs afoul of at least this one: “Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once”. It is (probably) a market value issue, and trying to magically change that doesn’t work.

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