Daily Debrief: Tech journalists feeling the crunch
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>> Welcome to the Daily Debrief. I am CNET's Carla
DuBois, I'm here with CNET News senior writer Greg
Sandraval [Phonetic], and as part of an ongoing series
that CNET News has created, journalists are covering the
tech layoffs in this tough economy. And the angle that
Greg recently took is all about tech journalists. Why
don't you tell us about the man you profiled?
>> Robert Mullen is a long-time journalist. A ten-year
veteran of technology news. And he suddenly finds
himself out of work in a down economy.
>> Right. And this happened over the summer, he was
>> And what was the reason for the layoff, just we can't
pay your salary?
>> Just -- there was a bunch of -- he was -- it was a
round of layoffs, and we're starting to see it. Mainly
newspapers, but it's starting to hit tech journalism as
>> Absolutely. So what has this man done to stay
>> He's going out and pitching stories to newspapers, to
tech trade pubs, he's hustling to find freelance work.
>> And is there any out there?
>> He says there is. There is. There's lots of --
because a lot -- in tough times a lot of publications
have decided to hire freelancers and pay on a per story
basis. But the question is whether he can pay his bills
>> Absolutely. It's not salaried, clearly. It's --
there's no saving, there's no 401 K built in, there's no
benefits. He's got a lot of extra expenses going out.
>> That when you get paid per word or per article, it's
tough to see if that adds up.
>> You've got to -- the trick is to, like, gather as
many clients, as many publications that give him
>> There you go.
>> But it's a guessing game, still. He doesn't know for
sure if he can make a go of it.
>> And I'm sure right now the competition is especially
fierce. Not only with other people who are laid off,
but you know, with those young little whipper-snappers
who are fresh out of college.
>> That's right. That's right. The competition is
going to get tougher as there's more layoffs in the
newspapers and other publications. So it's going to be
>> Yeah. Especially if people are, you know, blogging
more, willing to work for less.
>> That's right.
>> What do you think this means? I mean, let's look at
a little big picture about the industry of journalism.
I guess specifically tech. I mean, you're predicting
>> Yes, absolutely. Things are going to get only
harder. And the big question is whether people want to
have professionals going out and getting news for them,
or whether they're satisfied with people who do this,
you know, insiders that report on their own personal
blog. And I think the problem with that though, and of
course I'm biased, but I think the problem with that is
that professional news gatherers, that's all we do. We
go out and get info. There's no -- hopefully there's no
conflicts of interest or we're not doing it as a side
job, we're doing it all the time.
>> But maybe the public doesn't want it. I don't know.
>> Yeah. This economic downturn could really be the
game changer for how journalism works.
>> Oh, I think -- I think the -- the media industry is
going to be vastly different in a year from now.
>> Yeah. Well we've already seen it trickle in, the way
that so many publications have gone web-based only.
>> You know, and that you don't need, like,
international bureaus any more when people can connect
through the Internet.
>> No. They're disappearing. Maybe in a year from now
the whole concept of a foreign journalist or a foreign
correspondent won't even exist.
>> Yeah, yeah. Well knock of wood that CNET News is
>> Keep our fingers crossed, yes.
>> Thank you so much. Greg Sandraval. I'm Carla
DuBois, we'll see you on the next Daily Debrief.
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