Pre-Haiti, as most news events this week should be cataloged, Tim Arango and David Carr of the New York Times published an insightful profile of Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News. Out of the many points they made about the man who helped build Fox, this one really stuck out:
“At a time when the broadcast networks are struggling with diminishing audiences and profits in news, he has built Fox News into the profit engine of the News Corporation. Fox News is believed to make more money than CNN, MSNBC and the evening newscasts of NBC, ABC and CBS combined. The division is on track to achieve $700 million in operating profit this year, according to analyst estimates that Mr. Ailes does not dispute.”
Pre-Haiti, this statement raised a few questions, such as:
Why does this news organization seem to thrive when many others are struggling?
How could it dominate its competition so convincingly?
Does its widely-perceived conservative political approach to news coverage appeal to so many, or does the perceived liberal political approach of other mainstream media frustrate so many?
Post-Haiti, these questions tend to take a back seat. Covering breaking news is an expensive undertaking. More often than not, media spend money hand-over-fist sending journalists to the scene, expanding news space in print and eliminating commercials on broadcast. Overtime skyrockets as journalists jazzed at updating a fixated world on the most gripping story of the year work round the clock to communicate, to connect and to bring hope to those isolated by disaster.
Consider some of the media chronicling the misery of the Haitian people.
Pre-Haiti, Charles Pelton, a former journalist, wrote a controversial article that appears on paidContent.org titled: “How to turn journalists into profit centers.” Pelton recently came under fire for proposing that Post reporters attend a series of sponsored salon dinners, where the paper essentially sold access to its reporters.
The journalists straining to cover the Haitian aftermath are revenue drains. And that is how it should be.