Pulitzer or community – daddy or chips?

Last night I was part a debate on the regional press at City University.

Near the end, talk moved on to the subject of journalism enterprise.

When asked for a show of hands, most of the students said they would like to work in the mainstream media. Eighteen out of approx. 70 in the room said they wanted to work for a start-up.

I said I expected it would be those 18 that would be employed by mainstream media organisations. I guess, for me, the skills priority for journalists has changed.

It reminded me of a hypothetical situation someone put to me the other day:

You are the editor of a newspaper. You are allowed to employ one more person. You can choose either a writer that has won a Pulitzer prize or a writer that has built an online community of 40,000 highly committed readers and contributors. Which do you choose?

I know nothing is ever that clear cut, of course. This is a real “daddy or chips” question. Yet, I guess how you answer it gives a good indication of how you think we should train our journalists of the future.

6 thoughts on “Pulitzer or community – daddy or chips?

  1. Surely you employ both but pay them half the wages?
    And it’s always chips… any fool knows that.

  2. It depends on whether you think the writer with the 40,000 fans is going to bring enough of them to your newspaper to make a difference to your circulation. Will they buy your newspaper to read him/her, or have they so lost the habit of reading newspapers that even having him/her on board won’t help.
    I’d probably take a punt that it’s worth a try.

  3. Pingback: news:rewired, 14 January 2010, City University London » Blog Archive » #newsrw: Student online enthusiasts will probably end up in the mainstream, says @timesjoanna

  4. After series 5 of The Wire and their cynical depiction of Pulitzer-chasing, I’d say the person with 40,000 followers has been subjected to more democratic scrutiny.

    Is that chips?!

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