Profits are put first on both sides of the Atlantic



American journalists are an unhappy breed.

According to a survey of nearly 1,000 of them, more than half feel that the quality of work they put out is being “seriously hurt” by publishers’ and broadcasters’ pursuit of profits.

“Journalists think that economics that are beyond their control are doing more damage than they did five years ago,” the report said.

There were other worrying findings too: American reporting is increasingly sloppy and filled with errors, too timid, particularly when it comes to President Bush, and too coloured by ideological views.

Remember, these are the views of those on the profession’s front line. Would such a survey yield similar concerns over here? It seems likely.

Consolidation has meant that greater emphasis has to be placed on profit margins than ever before.

Many journalists, particularly in regional newspapers, believe this has come at the expense of staffing levels and the quality of work that they can produce.

The institutional shareholder is suddenly a powerful player, with a keener interest in editorial policy. Just ask Piers Morgan about Tweedy, Browne and co. – who questioned the Mirror’s anti-war stance last year, and who raised concerns over his editorship just before his sacking.

Now more than ever, the news game is big business.

But is big business good for news?

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