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As a former journalist who crossed over to 'the dark side' of marketing and PR, I can see both sides here. On one hand, I would hate to see print media in general--newspapers in particular--become a thing of the past. On the other, I love the near-real-time information sharing available with digital media.

As a marketer, the biggest problem with the digital realm right now is the lack of third-party verified audience data (see www.buysafemedia.com if you're not familiar with the concept). For print, we have independent circulation audits that allow us to pick the publication that best suits our goals for reaching a specific target audience. This is really important for trade press, where some of the niche products demand that you really get into some nitty gritty targeting.

I understand that the bigger media auditing organizations are working on some real breakthrough methodologies for online traffic measurement and verification. I say it can't come too soon!

Excellent point on coming at the ethical conversation from different points of view and history. Professionally, I've always been in charge of both advertising and PR. I do keep them separate and I have been turned off by trade publications that suggested they would give me preferential coverage for some advertising dollars. In a couple of lucky instances, the story/interview and the ad happened at the same time. Not engineered by us. I view it as church and state - I will sponsor content that makes sense to the company, especially online, to back up, but I will not pay for editorial.

There is a lot to think about. It's not just distribution of content. It's what content gets distributed, how it's produced, who pays for it, who ensures there remains integrity. That's why it's a pity seeing journalists try to become bloggers. We need solid reporting now more than ever.

Valeria,
This is such an important conversation, and it doesn't stop at how newspapers (and advertising, for that matter) will survive without fundamentally new models that take the gatekeeper-is-everyone reality into account.

Ethics and transparency are key ideas here too. The comment from Joe is a great example. The processes inherent to journalism in the legacy media are based on the idea that through the editorial stream, a product will be produced and because of the ethics and standards inherent to the industry (SPJ codes) and the reputation of the masthead it can be trusted and held up as "truth." Thus, the journalist, interestingly, STILL sees themselves as the gatekeeper, even in our current media landscape. See http://www.stateofthenewsmedia.org/2008/Journalist%20report%202008.pdf

The processes in regards to truth when it comes to participatory content, such as blogging put this model in its head and say, I am a person or individual who is creating content the best that I personally know how, based on my own understanding of truth and the issue I am covering, and I will put it out there for public consumption, and together, we will comment on and wrestle with and refine this content until together, we all agree that the conversation we've had has helped us get at truth.

Interestingly, both bloggers and journalists both consider themselves ethical. They just define them differently.

When it comes to the question you pose, and that Joe gets at, financing of the media comes into play when we talk about audience credibility - especially in advertising (are advertisers given preference for coverage), corporate ownership and coverage, etc. I'm actually about to begin a study of journalists (and perhaps bloggers) on media transperancy in our current news landscape.

But in terms of how journalists see this, and their career options, the state of their profession, etc. that adds a whole new level to the discussion, it seems. Things worth considering. http://twitter.com/tmonhollon/status/1113133444

So thanks for joining in the conversation on this issue. It's giving me lots to think about.

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