Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

A quick question:

Posted in Journalism by Adam Westbrook on August 3, 2009

I’ve been wondering this recently: is it better to have a steady income working as part of a big news operation, or to be on your own in the risky, but exciting world of freelancing?

I’ve shifted from one to the other over the last few months. I know it’s horses for courses, but I’d love to know what everyone thinks:


2 Responses

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  1. Bob Bernet said, on August 4, 2009 at 12:51 am

    Adam –
    This topic relates back to Richard G. Picard’s article, “Why Journalists Deserve Low Pay.”

    Picard’s title is disingenuous. It should read. “Reasons why journalism has lost its economic value.” Picard must have been in marketing or advertising in a former life because his title is nothing more than an old-fashioned hook or a carrot on a stick. This has nothing to do with professional journalists losing their value and everything to do with new ideas.

    If necessity is the mother of invention, then it is only a matter of time before innovative minds produce a variety of solutions to this predicament. An unregulated Internet and the easy access that almost everyone has to making their own journalistic contributions is a double-edged sword.

    The real disparity seems to be between individuals who have spent years in school and in the workforce as professional journalists and those who see themselves with similar abilities when they are sitting before a keyboard. With lightning-fast computers, digital cameras, and a knack for spelling and storytelling, all men (and women) truly ARE created equal. What could be more democratic?

    As television news and newspapers continue to decline in viewers and readers, the traditional job description of the journalist is changing. Will the free press become a volunteer watchdog with news and opinions from all over the spectrum? How will the free market be able to support it? It is no longer a free press if it becomes taxpayer funded. After all, John Peter Zenger was no friend of the government, nor would he have wanted it that way.

    The goal is to keep the press solvent on its own. The only way to do that in a truly free market is to reinforce its value. Formulas for success are not bound by time. It might be worth going back to the drawing board to review the characteristics that made successes out of Horace Greeley, Joseph Pulitzer, and William Randolph Hearst, to name a very few. It could be that too much time and effort is being spent on keeping things the same while expecting new results. Journalism is at a turning point and it is time to get out and push.

  2. Jon Moss said, on August 7, 2009 at 6:08 am

    Adam,

    My advice – just do something you love, something you are madly passionate about and with people who you like and respect.

    When you are happy, focused and engaged, you will be creating great work, and the income will come.

    Be happy, and don’t get held back and your ideas an creativity crushed by the people you work with and the environment you’re in. I was, and I escaped, and have never looked back.


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