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Decline and Fall or Brave New World?

Last night, thejournal.ie won the Best Online Only Publication at the Irish Web Awards. Congratulations.

The award led to some reaction online, with journalist Philip Nolan observing: “So, let me get this straight. Traditional media spends millions on journalism but if you aggregate that content, you get an #iwa award.”

This in turn prompted debate on old and new media, whether aggregators benefited publishers by linking to original reports, and the future of print.

I worked for a while in online news earlier this year. As a journalist, my first instinct is to report, creating original stories. Online, the pressure is to create content, often rewriting reports from elsewhere since the small numbers in most web operations make reporting an expensive luxury.

But if new media “feeds for 90%” of its copy on traditional outlets, as Nolan said, and print is declining, what happens to new media when there’s no more print to copy?

Irish newspapers employ journalists in the hundreds. All of that content supports one Irish online news outlet, thejournal.ie, employing fewer than ten journalists as far as I can tell.

Unless someone figures out a way to finance a lot more online jobs, journalism will be impoverished.

Binary future? Image via MorgueFile