Needless to say, things can seem gloomy. The always-hard-to-finance journalism that resembles literature as much as it does craft or commerce—as Nabokov wrote of great fiction, a combination of “magic, story, lesson”—is just as difficult to pay for and to achieve, but even fewer readers seek it out. Fewer Found Media-ites have the support to report in the name of social justice, or to expose wrongdoing—the two best aspects of traditional journalism. Will Lost Media’s methods of “making the world a better place”—reporting on ruinous working conditions or rooting out the dirty bank accounts of worthies-gone-wild—be left only to the lucky few? One hopes that the people looking so hard for the new economic models for this kind of journalism find them soon.

Still, somewhere there’s a young woman reading books written in the golden age of literary nonfiction, in a public park. When that young woman puts her book down, she may blog something honest or incisive about it—or, at the very least, attention-getting—that strangers will stumble upon and then fans may find. She is not yet worried about making a grown-up salary. After all, she can rest assured that she is part of Found Media, and moving forward on the continuum of the new, new, new journalism. 


More in Cover Story

The Future of Reading

Read More »

Alissa Quart is a CJR columnist and contributing editor. She is the author of two books, Branded and Hothouse Kids. Her third, about American outsiders, comes out in 2013. She is also senior editor of The Atavist and an adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School.