Today brings the latest in a series of articles in newspapers on the dangers and rigors of working in online media. The New York Times alone has written at least two of these articles, the first of which implicitly blamed blogging for GigaOm boss Om Malik’s unfortunate heart attack.
In the latest NYT instalment , Jeremy Peters describes the wave of panic that crashed through the POLITICO newsroom when an Aprils Fools’ joke email informed reporters that, thereafter, they would have to start working at 5AM. Upon opening this email–and mistaking it as a policy memo from management–one fragile member of POLITICO’s editorial team is said to have cried.
And no wonder!
Imagine the horror of having to start work at 5AM. Imagine having to get up at the same time as millions of other Americans whose days begin early and last long–such as security guards and coal miners and lawyers and bankers and restaurateurs and pilots and homebuilders and teachers and entrepreneurs and wire-service, radio, and TV reporters. Imagine not being able to stroll to work sometime after rush hour, spread several newspapers on your desk, peruse them leisurely until the afternoon, and then begin to think about the one article that you might (might) have to produce that day. Imagine being forced to care–as online media folks do–whether people actually want to read what you write. Life would be so oppressive and unfair as to barely be worth living!
(Or it would at least be more like the more-competitive British newspaper market, where reporters are sometimes required to write, gasp, two or three or FOUR stories a day).
So it’s no wonder that, instead of recognising online media for what it is–a hyper-competitive, dynamic new segment of the industry, in which every successful company, editor, and writer understands just how much intensity and effort is required to survive, mainstream media is instead writing articles about online media “burnout” and whining to politicians about how newspapers need a taxpayer-funded bailout.
Because, without a bailout, we must infer, newspaper folks might have to adapt to this new, more-competitive reality. And if newspapers actually had to adapt, then we wouldn’t just be talking about having fewer printed newspapers, people. We’d be talking about a threat to a way of life!
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