Friday, January 15, 2010

News media bankruptcy - and what now for writers? - Denyse O'Leary

Recently, almost the entire CanWest newspaper chain was put up for sale after filing for bankruptcy. This echoes a theme many of us have recently been heard to harp on at our Write! Canada conferences.

Basically, here is my take, as the local business teacher: The old media cannot pay you a decent wage for your work because they don't have the money. That's all you need to know.

I hear endless conspirazoid theorizing on how editors oppress writers. But after a lifetime in writing, I have learned this: When people have the money they buy what they want and they pay what it costs to get the job done the way they want it done in their own environment and at their own convenience.

When they don't have the money ... all sorts of nonsense starts up.

On a list I frequent, there was at one time some discussion about "farming out" writing to cheaper jurisdictions.

Yes, that is possible. But, as always, everything depends on the service required. If it is generic, it might work. Otherwise, it won't.

Sometimes, everything useful about a story depends on the specifics, on the local factors.

I lived through the Toronto garbage strike, and would not be very happy to hear it was being covered from Sri Lanka. Not because I doubt the ability of Sri Lankan journalists to cover such a story in principle. But I was here and they were not. If no one wants to fly them in, why assume they can do a better job from afar than the local help can do on the ground?

Local people often know stuff that fly-ins don't, stuff that can be highly relevant to understanding the story.

As I have doubtless mentioned before, the reason for the popularity of blogs is immediacy.

A blogger can tell you things that are happening right now - like mounds of garbage piling up in Toronto.

Not to worry, it was a cool summer anyway and the strike is long settled, so don't hesitate to visit. But back then, you would want someone to tell you what was happening right now back then.

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

3 comments:

violet said...

Right on! I was asked recently to consider blogging for a commercial venture in Israel. One of the reasons I turned it down was the very thing you mentioned - blogging is about immediacy and the authentic experience.

Peter Black said...

Denyse,
this piece is you -- pithy, poignant, and practical as ever; and, as usual, informative and instructive.
Thank you.

Marian said...

Thanks for your refreshing logic.

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