How To Turn Journalists Into Profit Centers


Charles Pelton, a former journalist, served as General Manager of Conferences and Events at The Washington Post (NYSE: WPO) last spring. He was in charge of developing a variety of events, including <a href="" title="


Alan Soon

I think one of the biggest untapped skills of online journalists is their ability to “shepherd” communities. To build the seminars you’re talking about, it helps to have one of these shepherds on board to not only pick the guests, but more importantly, engage and seed their respective communities. This will be an increasingly important skill of an online journalist.

My post on news shepherding:


“A study could be customized for a sole sponsor; that’s OK if the journalist is 100% independent of sponsor influence.”

How could a journalist customize a study for a sole sponsor and be 100% independent of sponsor influence?

That thinking further illustrates my argument that media organizations are losing ground because, at some level, readers discern the articles to be strongly manipulated by the media organization’s sponsor relations. I’d much sooner read an honest blog than a co-opted “professional” journalist, and there you’ve lost another reader.


Assuming journalists could find time to lead forums and organize research between the reporting, writing, editing, videos and and blogging they do now, I wonder where you are going to find sponsors for the “revenue-driven content stream” for issues like homelessness, child abuse, government malfeasance, blight, contractor fraud and discrimination. The entities with money to sponsor your chats will realize that often the truth will make them look pretty bad. Imagine the Blue Cross health forum! Or perhaps the Giant Big Box Store employment research group!

Rakesh Balram

R. Thompson has got it right. Journalists are not experts…we are professionals who can write about something/someone in a more engaging way than the average person. In the real world, journalists are like a baby in the water.

Example: Last year my wife booked tickets from Auckland, New Zealand to New Delhi, India. But just a fortnight before our flight, we had to cancel. The travel agent, a real goon, imposed a huge cancellation charge, saying it was too close to the travel date, airline rules etc. After she threatened to sue, he gave back some more money. Since I was totally disgusted with my wife’s choice of travel agent (when I personally new several decent travel agents) I wanted to punish her and did not use any of my influence with the media to make him cough up all the money.

Anyway, one of our acquaintances later asked me, “Didn’t you have travel insurance?”

I said, “No.”

He: “But you are a journalist, you write on so many topics; surely you knew something about travel insurance. If you had taken it, it would have covered the cancellation charges.”

I said: “It’s a myth that journalists know everything or that we are very smart people.”

He: “Oh come on, don’t be so modest.”

I said: “Listen, we journalists sound like we know everything because we CAN write about most everything but we do not know about ANYTHING in an in-depth manner.

His eyes lit up — with the truth!


Generally large media organizations (major metro newspapers; national magazines, etc) have a sufficient base of talent. One impediment is that these journalists typically lack training in public speaking, report writing, or developing media products such as videos. Such training is a pivotal step toward implementing the revenue stream Pelton identifies in his piece. And it’s also good for the journalists because it increases their market value.


It is too bad journalists are losing their jobs and journalism is taking such a terrific blow. But the answer is not confusing the public.
“What counts is honest disclosure about such relationships, and holding reporters and editors accountable.” True
“There’s an easy way for news organizations and journalists to know if they’ve crossed the line: It’s when advertisers and sponsors try to dictate the content.” Not so true. The public also needs a clear understanding of who is buttering whose bread. It is not enough for journalists to say, “trust us.” Transparency demands more.

Ed Dunn

In order to turn a journalist into a profit center, the journalist has to be a quality product with substance. Most of these technology journalists are a joke at best and do nothing more than “pal around” with notable sideline geeks and operate in a closed loop circle.

Most “technology journalists” don’t even have basic knowledge of the technology subject they write about. Most of them do nothing more than cobble links from Web 2.0 tech blogs that doesn’t even know much either because the blogs are nothing more than a VC firm PR outlet.

I strongly believe information media presentation will come only from people who understand the industry and decide to become journalists, not the other way around.

R. Thompson

In theory, this sort of makes sense. In reality, though. most journalists don’t have the knowledge to lead community discussions or create research materials (which is an entirely different style of writing than newspapers or TV) but I digress. To put it simply, there’s been a huge knowledge drain as a result of layoffs so that newspapers can no longer use the reporters who gained a bit of insight after covering their beats for years. Being a journalist isn’t the same thing as being a subject-matter expert.

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