I realized that there is a part of covering Congress, if you’re doing daily coverage, that is actually sort of colluding with the politicians themselves because so much of what I was doing was actually recording and playing what they say or repeating what they say. And I feel like the real story of Congress right now is very much removed from any of that, from the sort of theater of the policy debate in Congress, and it has become such a complete theater that none of it is real… I feel like I am, as a reporter in the Capitol, lied to every day, all day. There is so little genuine discussion going on with the reporters… To me, as a reporter, everything is spin.
I am going to try to focus myself on the stories that none of the other reporters have time to cover. NPR would have loved to have had any of these stories… The problem is, as a modern, esteemed news organization, NPR also feels that it needs to cover the daily news and the daily news as currently defined is what happened on the floor today, what’s the big debate in Congress, what’s your government doing. And I completely understand that. But our staff is so small on the Hill that it was impossible for me to do more than a story once in a while that agreed with how I felt it should be covered.
Bonus: Seabrook talks with NPR’s Jennifer Ludden in this July interview about her departure and thoughts on Washington political culture.
Double Bonus: Seabrook is one of 15 Soundcloud Community 2012 fellows. Head over to hear some of the audio stories that each is producing.
There’s an old yarn about people’s unwillingness to pay for content online, but the latest data from The Pew Internet Survey show how this notion continues to unravel. A sliver under two-thirds of all Internet users (65 percent) are buying something online, with the average survey respondent spending $47 per month on online content.
33% of internet users have paid for digital music online
33% have paid for software
21% have paid for apps for their cell phones or tablet computers
19% have paid for digital games
18% have paid for digital newspaper, magazine, or journal articles or reports
16% have paid for videos, movies, or TV shows
15% have paid for ringtones
12% have paid for digital photos
11% have paid for members-only premium content from a website that has other free material on it
10% have paid for e-books
7% have paid for podcasts
5% have paid for tools or materials to use in video or computer games
5% have paid for “cheats or codes” to help them in video games
5% have paid to access particular websites such as online dating sites or services
2% have paid for adult content
Of the 755 survey respondents, nearly one in five (18 percent) said that they had paid for journalistic or editorial content of some kind, which should be good news for newspaper publishers. However, as we’ve seen with iPad versions of magazines, enthusiasm has been tepid overall.
Perhaps it’s time for legacy media outlets to begin diversifying their online content offerings, seeing themselves as portals or curators of premium content worth buying. Without reprising the role of filters and analysts of the important news of the day, top media brands could engage and broaden their audience through myriad premium content offerings that subsidize the unprofitable, but essential journalism that established their brands in the first place.