Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Blocking ads for better journalism

I’ve done something recently to make a small contribution to the future of thriving, responsible journalism.

I’ve installed Adblock Plus on my Mac. The program strips virtually all ads from my regular news sites.

If everyone installed the ad blocker program, we would wipe out a traditional revenue source available to the news business as it moves on line.

Of course the industry is struggling to come up with feasible economic models that work on the web. Unless news organizations can maneuver around ad blockers, they won’t be able to count on advertising as part of their plans.

That’s just fine with me.

I don’t feel guilty about blocking ads, including those that dance onto the screen and obscure the news.

Adblocker and I are just doing our bit to take journalism off the profit-driven treadmill that has so undercut journalism recently.

I’ve always hoped that journalism would be seen as a quasi-public utility. To serve the public interest, it should not be subject to the incentives of the commercial marketplace and the stock market.

I side with those who are looking to foundations to pay for independent, quality journalism. Among the foundations should be those that raise tax-deductible money from readers hungry for in-depth, unbiased reporting.

In this FOX News age, we need to be reminded that the goal of the news media should be to report and inform, not to harangue and create celebrity blowhards. For that reason, foundation boards should consist of journalists, not politicians, investors or others with vested interests.

If you want to help journalism, check out Adblock. And to see one way journalism could go with foundation support, visit Pro Publica.

Disclosure: My own neighborhood news site, The Hillsdale News, has sponsors that Adblock can’t touch (at least so far). The pittance I ask from local businesses pays solely for web hosting and support, about $600 a year. I volunteer my work as reporter and editor. If I were to make a non-volunteer, non-profit of The Hillsdale News, I’d switch to reader contributions and seek foundation support.

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Blogger JoremThorn said...

It's an interesting perspective and strategy, trying to stop online advertising as the source of profits for journalism before it really even starts. You know, they just recently passed a bailout in England to publicly fund news papers and other forms of journalism. Is that more the direction you had in mind? It certainly does seem to me that journalism provides a vital social service that can justifiably be taken out of the arena of profit. There are some great discussions of this and other concerns for the future of journalism at,com_sectionex/Itemid,200076/id,8/view,category/#catid69 They have some interviews with major journalists as well about the subject.

11:12 AM  

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