A few months back, I blogged about how writer Paul Carr had been sacked by the Guardian due to freelancer budget cuts. At the time, I said:
“…it is yet another indictment of the decline of ‘traditional media’ and the power and rise of bloggers and media ‘personalities’ who don’t need a publishing house behind them to be successful. And that’s great for people like Carr. It’s harder though for less forthright journalists.”
And I was right. Carr is still writing his next book, publishing on his blog and has since secured two new columns. One with pro-blog Techcrunch and the other with the Telegraph.
The latter always seemed a weird fit, but it was good to see the Telegraph taking a few more risks (which it certainly was with Carr!). But then yesterday Carr announced – surprise, surprise – that the Telegraph has terminated his contract. The reason given by his boss:
“I’ve been looking at the latest traffic figures for your blog and also our budget and how we’re spending it. And I’m afraid I’ve reached the conclusion that your time blogging with us should come to an end… Our limited budget just cannot sustain these sums without a bigger bang for our buck.”
You can read the rest of Carr’s post to get his full (and colourful) reaction to his sacking. But it’s the reason given that is interesting to me. As Carr says:
“I short, I wasn’t driving enough pageviews to justify what they were paying me.”
Should we be surprised that this is potentially all that seems to matter for journalism now? Should we be concerned? These are after all commercial companies, with commercial concerns.
Perhaps this is why, for me, ‘personal’ blogging is becoming so important. By this I don’t mean Techcrunch or even Paul Carr. I mean the thousands that blog every now and then, even the millions that post on microblogs like Twitter. Those that share their thoughts and ideas.
They aren’t driven by page views or sensationalist headlines. They aren’t ruled by the ‘media agenda’ or corporate, PR-speak.
This is why the democratisation of media is so important, especially considering the way more and more professional media outlets seem to be going. I hope the professional media stays strong and survives, I think it is vital. But I’m excited by the new brand of journalism just as much.