Scott Karp has a nice post today about the intersection of journalism and blogging. I’m glad he notes the weakness of the argument that bloggers cannot be journalists. Suggesting mainstream journalism is on firm and high ground is especially absurd in this world where yellow journalism generally trumps quality, superficial treatments cripple even the few fine writers at major newspapers, and Fox and CNN TV news parade AnchorModels chosen primarily for looks (women) or bombastic nonsense (men) or both (Anne Coulter).
I’d suggest that a key challenge to conventional journalism is not so much one of quality writing as it is *scalability*. Bloggers work for nothing or peanuts, and there are many more coming in the wings. Most blogs will continue to suck, but some will be great and this number will increase as more writers get comfortable with the medium.
It will be increasingly difficult for publishers – even cutting edge, well funded ones like Nick at Gawker who is hiring a “journalist” – to justify paying much for content. I don’t think Gawker’s decision to hire a legacy media journalist reflects a new trend, rather it reflects a fairly atypical reversion to old trends during this transition period.
Contrast Gawker’s success with the demise of Blognation, which was not even paying people. Would they have succeeded with a bunch of “real” journalists? No, of course not. Good writing is cheap and getting cheaper. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but it’s certainly an inevitable thing.