Ken Kurson on Changes in The Journalism Industry

Ken Kurson has had an extensive and storied career in the journalism industry. His input into the overall conversation about what the future holds for journalism is certainly invaluable for all of us to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the current state of the industry. As print outlets continue striving to adapt to the changing economic trends of the media industry, it’s useful to write about how those changes impact journalists’ jobs; and their editorial staffs. 

Journalists play a critical role in a functioning democracy; and nobody would deny that. The sourcing processes that they engage in can prove critical to unearthing important stories on a variety of different subjects and topics. But as the economics of the industry have becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with, the ability to employ journalists full-time has become a challenge for many outlets. Many for that reason operate in a freelance capacity, instead contributing their valuable work to outlets on such a basis. 

Most outlets have financial agreements with such freelancers to ensure they are compensated accordingly. But nonetheless, the challenge for a freelance journalist to be able to make a living solely on the basis of such work and generating such income is a difficulty. So what can be done to help ensure that some of our most most-respected and well-regarded media outlets are continuing to cultivate and breed the next generation of gifted journalists? The next generation of Woodwards and Bernsteins?

The reality is that there needs to be more dramatic investments made by media publications into their digital platforms. The digital media environment is ripe for creativity, innovation and ultimately, affording media outlets an available and sizable revenue source in the form of digital advertising revenue. 

Ken Kurson was able to identify this trend while the editor in chief at The New York Observer. Under Kurson’s leadership the paper’s transition from a print to digital outlet ran seamlessly and with a great deal of fanfare. The type of A-1 reporting that The Observer’s readers were accustomed to, continued. And that’s an important lesson that folks at other media outlets that have already gone through this transition or are still considering it , should be looking to emulate. 

In fact, Kurson brought innovation and creativity to his approach, by developing a contributor network for the digital platform that afforded writers the ability to have their content published and be compensated accordingly. The outlet was also able to capitalize on the technological capabilities that exist to identify more information about their audience and to develop content that reflected their audience’s tastes, interests and desires. 

Kurson has taken these talents and this rich background and understanding to his new venture, comprised of a series of digital media properties that have already built a dedicated and loyal following of readers. Ken Kurson created Book and Film Globe for savants of literature, and general reading and the like. 

The developments in the digital media environment have led to many changes in the media and journalism industries. While there certainly is no question about that, these changes have also created opportunities. Those opportunities include providing editorial staffs and journalists the ability to better understand the interests of their readers and audiences. As more and more news properties transition and adapt to the new digital news environment, it will be interesting to see how various news properties handle and manage these developing changes.