One debate gaining particular traction is that of whether or not self-publishing will make the traditional news media obsolete. While many are of the opinion that, in the not so distant future, a model of free author generated content will make standard news gathering organizations irrelevant – I believe that this will not be the case for three particular reasons. Financing, journalistic expertise, and an aging population will have a tremendous effect on the emergence of self-published literature.
One key factor to consider is the heavy amount of financing that goes into prominent news gathering techniques. It would be extremely difficult for the average self-publisher to pay for a trip to, say Africa, with the intention of reporting on the AIDS epidemic continuing there. Individual journalists lack the basic resources needed, from a monetary standpoint, to effectively gain real world type experience and expertise. When people look to the larger, more established news organizations, they expect a level of reporting that is not sustainable for a self-publisher over the long term.
Another key issue that will arise with “individual” type publishing is in the author’s journalistic expertise. Because most people would like to at least make a decent wage for their dedicated time and resources, we would be hard pressed to imagine a situation where the majority of self-publishers could both finance their operation and earn a living simultaneously. Major news gathering organizations work on the theory that a broader, more experienced, staff will thus create economies of journalistic scale that would be difficult for someone working independently to achieve.
Lastly, an aging population typically creates social situations where more technologically based methods for resource gathering are seen as cumbersome to the more traditional and standard paradigms. One most simply examine the shift while aging to a more conservative approach to politics, religion and other social views.
We find it very difficult to believe that an eighty-five year old grandmother would be adaptive to reading the New Yorker, or other like publications, on their iPad. As the population ages, they are more likely to face physical limitations such as poor eye site that would render most technologically driven methods of news consumption obsolete.
In conclusion, it is my opinion that elements such as financing, expertise in journalism, and an aging population will all play a key role in assuring that self-publishing will not make traditional means of publishing non-existent. One needs only to look at the facts to come to this determination.