Comments on

Searching for the Future of Journalism

Original entry posted: Fri Aug 1 18:26:03 2008

Matt @ Fri Aug 1 13:07:20 2008 EST

My advice to this guy would be to concentrate on writing first and the programming side second. There will always be a demand for strong writers, in every format.

That said, the problem with journalism is that ye olde journalists think writing is enough — whether it's strong or not. Just like when photography popped up and made journalism even more interesting, the Internet has changed the way we look at news. It's now "adapt or die a slow painful death," and a lot of newspapers are struggling because they don't know how to adapt (or they refuse).

It's exciting and equally depressing. Change is a comin', but people are losing their jobs because the execs can't quite grasp what "change" means.

Thomas @ Sun Aug 3 09:41:41 2008 EST

Again, I'm not sure that the Internet has changed the way we look at news. I think it's shot the revenue model all to hell, and the industry has been slow to react to that.

Over the years, papers grew into these behemoths with style sections and op-ed pages and classified ads. And now they're trying to stop the bleeding by refocusing those. It seems to me that the one thing news media provide, that no-one else online does, is the actual journalism. But for some reason papers are reluctant to be proud of that.

Matt @ Wed Aug 13 13:40:42 2008 EST

But if CNN started the trend of the 24-hour news cycle, how can you say the Internet hasn't pushed us even more in that direction, thus changing how we look at news? Want to read dispatches from the front lines in Georgia? You can access some instantly (although the credibility of the "news" is questionable). You don't have to wait for a commercial to be over or for the anchor to stop talking about the Olympics.

For newspapers to survive, they have to take the magazine approach. They can no longer compete with breaking coverage, but they can provide the in-depth reporting necessary to take us past those sound bites. So yes, journalism is the key. But there's nothing you can do in a newspaper that you can't do online, unfortunately.

Thomas @ Wed Aug 13 17:15:02 2008 EST

The Internet has changed the accessibility of information. But the product of journalism--steady, well-written, fact-checked material--hasn't changed at all. If anything, as you note, it's become more important now that credibility has been distinguished from the ability to publish.

The Internet certainly hasn't changed the way that we look at news in the way that CNN did. All it's done, really, is drag newspapers into the same kind of media environment. And they're taking the wrong lessons from it: being online doesn't mean you need to ape the networks with a constant stream of content that must be fed, no matter how trivial. You need to be quick to respond, but that's not the same as "constant." And it's really not that different from a newspaper that publishes two or three editions a day anyway.

I wouldn't say that newspapers offer something that you can't do online. It's the opposite. This is their chance to strip back, to concentrate on content and really focus what it means to be a news organization, not a news + commentary + style + stocks + classifieds + travel organization. I suspect that there's a lot of cruft in the modern newspaper that won't survive (a lot of it at the top of the management chain, probably, but good luck cutting that).

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