Are blogs the threat for professional journalists ?

Thanks to 6 hours difference, I usually read tomorrow edition of Slovak and Czech newspapers on the Net one day ahead. Most of them switches to new edition at midnight, which is 6PM our time. I am doing this for several years already. What is different between now and 2-3 years ago is what I read. While before it were mostly articles written by journalists and news industry professionals, now I read mostly blogs. On SME blog, there are few hundreds, maybe few thousands bloggers, and content they produce is usually much more interesting and readable that the content of official newspaper.

Interestingly enough, it is not only newspapers. If I sum up my information sources from the Net, maybe 70% of it is “user created content” – sites like Wikipedia, social bookmarking sites and aggregators such as diggdot.us, programmer’s blogs and programmers sites (SourceForge, CodeProject.com), podcasts – all of them share one common feature: the content is not created by professionals, which are paid to create content.

How far will this continue ? Does this trend present a threat to professional journalists ? How far can these sites grow ? Will they be able to keep the quality and focus ? Is this just a new fad that will disappear – or will it change the landscape of news industry same way as internet changed software distribution or music industry ? What will motivate people to buy paper version of newspaper when you can get much more than you can eventually consume for free online ? How many sites can survive on ad income only – without charging subscription fee for access ? Only time will tell …

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