There is no social media without the media

January 19, 2010

Without the traditional media, there would be no social media.

Alongside all the Facebook statuses about bra colors and tweets from celebrities, there are blog posts and other updates inspired by or referring to original reporting. Information gathered by newspapers, television stations and radio stations drives most of what we all wind up talking about online. Without paid journalists to tell us what’s happening around the world, we’d have a lot less to talk about.

We often forget this fact, but we value quality journalism and the news it generates. We’ve just tricked ourselves into thinking that newsgathering doesn’t cost anything to produce, the same way that we’ve convinced ourselves that it costs $20 to visit a physician. One way or another, whether it’s the New York Times’ latest paywall attempt or something else, we are going to have to figure out how news organizations can successfully continue to generate revenue. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight, but it’s going to have to happen. If it doesn’t, our status updates and blog posts will never be the same.

(By the way, note how that Gawker post about the Times links to a New York Magazine story. See what I mean?)

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