Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
25 June 2019
Bonus system perpetuates media struggles
I get the reasoning for it, but a newspaper paying bonuses to reporters whose stories drive page views is a profoundly bad idea. The recent years of media struggles no doubt prompts this kind of action. But if you think media stories are banal now, just wait.
It’d also be easy to ignore this development here in the States as the media outlet in question is The Herald Sun in Melbourne, Australia. But already many digital platforms adopt this kind of approach. And News Corp, the Rupert Murdoch-owned media giant that owns hundreds of media outlets, owns The Herald Sun. It runs FOX News, The Wall Street Journal and many more.
Meaning, this could be the adopted system for many outlets to combat all the media struggles such as the lower number of subscriptions.
“But maybe the response to today’s media struggles isn’t to reward the sensational story. Reporters are paid dirt and I wouldn’t blame them if they all want the crime beat now.”
Could today’s media struggles lead to less important stories?
But here’s the issue. Paying these bonuses means editors and reporters will seek out the tawdry and most enticing stories out there to drive clicks. Which, not to be naïve, media outlets already do.
But sometimes, the responsibility of the media is to report stories that may not seem all that sexy. Watergate was basically ignored when Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein first started reporting on it. In today’s climate, would they just give up?
In fact, nestled inside the response from News Corp on this bonus system was this little gem. It will make allowances for reporters who cover politics and public policy because they are less read than ones on crime and entertainment. While that’s nice and all, even News Corp knows the system is flawed.
How’d we get here? How’d we go from The Washington Post publishing the Pentagon Papers to today’s media struggles in which the sensational leads today’s reporting?
The role of the media is as important now as it’s ever been. We have a US President calling the media the enemy of the people and saying The New York Times commits treason.
My history tells me the media has often been under fire. But maybe the response to today’s media struggles isn’t to reward the sensational story. Reporters are paid dirt and I wouldn’t blame them if they all want the crime beat now.
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