Journalism for hire

I think there is a big opportunity in radicalizing the way news is created and the way it is consumed. For too long the model has been that of one where a large audience (the readers) commissioned an agent (the newspaper or publication) to investigate an issue or cover a story. It was - in my opinion - private investigation made affordable for the masses.

Yet now, thanks to the Internet, the cost of private investigation for the individual has come down considerably. A reporter working at City Hall could be commissioned by twenty individuals - each paying $100 - to have the same story tailored to each individual, just for that individual.

The reporter is already at City Hall, has been covering the beat for years, and already has the expertise and know-how to put together the basic story. The tailoring for each individual consists of a mere paragraph or so, highlighting how the rest of the story is relevant to that individual.

For a week's work, the reporter makes $2,000 - I would imagine most journalists would consider this a decent wage. The individuals get information that is reasonably private, because they are one of only 20 individuals receiving the information. The story is also tailored to each of their own particular interests.

Some will hark that this is not journalism - that this is not a model that fulfills journalism's ambitions to serve the public good. I disagree. Journalists will have to write 'free' articles to show off the quality of their work, so they are commissioned for private pieces. In doing so, they may serve the public good function.

I would also argue that this is a model that already exists - to some extent - through niche publications, such as trade journals, that have small audiences that are willing to pay a premium to have stories just for their interests. This model merely makes hyper-niche possible.