U.S. Journalism Is Turning to an Unlikely Savior. Will It Work?

The logic behind the international hires is clear: as the journalism industry bleeds money, a fresh perspective could be just the thing to shake things up and bring in some much-needed cash. But the journalists operating under the swapped leadership aren’t so sure about the great migration across the pond. Across outlets, editors and reporters that spoke with The New Republic on the condition of anonymity expressed unease and anxiety, pointing disappointed fingers at the unclear reporting plans and reorganized newsroom structures proposed by their new leaders.

British journalists are among the first to acknowledge the stark differences between the journalism industry of the Old Country and the U.S. market. Fleet Street papers work in a smaller media ecosphere, which fosters a regional competitiveness that is only now beginning to develop in the U.S. thanks to a dwindling market. Their ethics differ, too: the British tabloid press are notoriously aggressive, unafraid to publish half-truths, purchase scoops, or even toe laws in pursuit of extreme sensationalism. (In fact, the Post’s Lewis is currently facing backlash from his involvement in one such scandal.)

From an English perspective, American papers are “too slow, too ponderous, and [lack] urgency,” according to Emily Bell, the founding director of Columbia Journalism School’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism and former director of Guardian Media Group. British journalists also are generally paid much less than American journalists: earlier this year, a job listing from the British royal family went viral when one of the world’s colonial leaders offered to pay 25,642.50 pounds per year—less than $32,000—for a communications assistant to help handle the fallout after seriously flubbing an announcement about Kate Middleton’s health.

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