Journalists who work for traditional print news organizations, such as The Washington Post, write their columns and are paid a salary. Perhaps they receive an employee discount when buying stock in the company or they may receive shares of stock as part of the terms of their employment contract. But, other than employee benefits, the aforementioned is the extent of their financial compensation.
It’s a little different for the Blogger. Unlike journalists at traditional print new outlets, individual bloggers are very much connected to ad revenue generated from previous articles, done last year, two years ago, or in some hypothetical future, 50 years ago. For example, a piece such as this one, 10 years from now will still likely be still be circulating on Google and other search engines. Ads will still probably be present on this article and every time a reader clicks on a content-matched, Ad-Sense-type ad aligned with the article, Usedcarsalesman will earn a small fee for it. As such, individual bloggers, like Usedcarsalesman, though nonsalaried, potentially enjoy ad revenue for every bit of writing they’ve done and do, from old to new. Best of all, this financial structure encourages bloggers to keep blogging, to stay in the game, to keep building on the work they’ve done in the past, because that work is potentially worth something on the web – the more of it there is, the more potential for ad revenue.
Will existing journalists leave large print news publications in favor of blogging?
As you can ascertain from the previous paragraph, Time is on Your Side as a Blogger. Yes, some journalists have already leveraged their names and experience working for a print news organization in order to enjoy the potential long-term, financial benefits of “owning” their writing on-line. Is that a jump prudent to make all at once? Probably not. Probably better to build a blog while you are still working for your old news organization and enjoying a salary, etc, doing something for a larger and larger blog readership over time until you can make a smoother financial transition.
But what about the kids who, in the past, might have planned to write for a print news organization as adults? Blogging since the age of 12, these once future print journalists might start earning ad revenue from their blog in their early teens, have a substantial body of work and readership built up by the age of 22, and might never feel a need to join a print news organization in order to earn a living as a journalist.
So, in 20 years, you think the print news organizations of the world could be dead, the young journalists who would have been their employees, instead opting to blog?
No, the print news organizations of the world won’t die. They may simply have to accept the sort of new, “space-suited” (By “space-suited,” I mean “receiving independent ‘life support,’” in a figurative sense, from blogging) young journalists who come there way. So, being an established blogger effectively puts the future, rank-and-file journalist in a potentially stronger position versus print news organizations. Such journalists will be able to negotiate with print news organizations from a stronger position, since they are coming in ‘owning’ their past work, receiving continuous ad revenue from this past work and are already read by substantial numbers around the world, apart from a news organization. Print news organizations in the future may have to respect the aforementioned reality and make potentially large concessions to young bloggers to, in some way, convince them to work for their news organizations.
Usedcarsalesman also thinks that the best bloggers may find it beneficial to organize within a large, specialized confederations that creates a synergy in terms of drawing readership, but enable each blogger to earn all the ad revenue associated with their work, old and new, on the site – perhaps, in return for a kick-back to the confederation. To some extent, organizations such as BlogCritics.com are such a confederacy of bloggers – there is a synergy created by it that makes it more likely that any given piece a blogger writes will be read. The site, Metroblogging.com, offers similar benefits to its world-wide participants. However, as for the bloggers on Blogcritics earning the ad revenue associated with their pieces – yeah, well never mind (of course, at this early stage, we are probably not talking really substantial revenue here).
OK, but what if the New York Times, The Washington Post, all print news organizations with on-line outlets, releases the contents of their archives on the web for free?
Won’t this flood the search engines and displace bloggers from formerly higher positions in the search results, now and in to the future? Usedcarsalesman thinks it might. For a blogger to keep earning ad revenue in such a world – a world that could emerge on the Web never or almost instantaneously - he or she would have to focus on specialized content, more specialized than produced by traditional news outlets. This would allow such bloggers to play the biblical Noah and find a way to potentially stay above a “flood” of conventional archived news-material released from traditional sources. Of course, maybe Usedcarsalesman overestimates the effect on bloggers, if the search engines do have to account for masses of newly released archived news material. But, really, who knows?
But, bottom line is that if blogging (content) contributions do flag the first half of 2007 as some analysts predict, this might show who’s serious about blogging and who isn’t. And, it might encourage more traditional journalists, now and future, to recognize the potential financial benefits of blogging and to try it on for size.