BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Monday, January 8, 2007

bucks or by-line?

There is an interesting dilemma that the so-called new journalism has brought upon print journalists.

I realized the past year that online journalism has rapidly changed the way reporters work in the beat. At least that's what I'm seeing in my own circle, the economics beat, particularly the energy sector.

Colleagues from other newspapers, who submit stories to online media outfits, have found themselves in a quandary: Should they submit stories to these Internet news sites and earn much-needed extra cash or submit stories exclusively to their newspapers? (As their respective companies require.)

Just last week, I have seen colleagues shocked by how fast their stories appear on the Internet. One male reporter who submits stories to a television news program was so shocked to see his article on the official website of that broadcast station.

Here's the thing. If they submit the stories to these Internet sites, they get extra cash but they run the risk of being outscooped by their very own articles. One male reporter complained that his editor used a story posted on the Internet (submitted by his colleague from the same beat) simply because that story was available way before the 5 p.m. deadline for print reporters.

At the very least, their very own newspaper editors can easily call their attention because of a story on the Internet.

The reason is clear. Internet sites (,,, among others) work fast, really fast.

A reporter may be at a press conference and depending on the website he's looking at, he may find the big story from that press event staring right at him as soon as he sits in front of the computer to work on his story.

For now, it's a balancing act for print journalists who dabble as stringers of other news agencies.

Nobody knows for sure what the future has in store for journalism. Print media may sooner or later be a thing of the past but I sure hope not.

One thing remains clear to me. At the end of the day, journalism will always be about stories. Real stories. Real people. Real events. It's about stories that make the world an interesting place to live in. And it's the reason that journalists--print, broadcast or online--stay in this crazy yet addicting vocation.