Non-journalists on staff?

Angela Grant has an intriguing post on her site today: Dangers of non-journalists on web staff. Her take, based on complaints from other journalists, is that folks without journalism backgrounds tended to choose material based on popularity not on legitimate news value.

She thought

it was unfortunate for him and his coworkers, who were frustrated that hard-hitting, important journalism was being passed over by flip user-submitted photo galleries and other silly content.

Howard Owens commented in reply

Where’s the links to prove the urban legend?
In a vacuum, meaning no links, no proof, there’s no way to validate or refute the assertion.

Let me take this a step further. Go ahead and post those hard-hitting stories. Fill your site with solid content. Balance it with stuff folks enjoy too. But beware what has happened in broadcasting, where the public’s whims are pandered to and news suffers. The bean-counters watch ratings and have discovered that the public likes shallow news, crime news, news without any real depth…and that is what many local news shows now focus on. The online bean-counters are there, just as they are in broadcasting, to make sure the company makes a buck – or as many bucks as they can. And these bucks do pay your salary. But there has to be balance too. The bean-counters must understand that if they morph their media from its foundation, it may totally lose its audience.


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