musings: the future of journalism, pt 1

Posted: 25/09/2010 in musings, the future of journalism
Tags: , ,

Here is a bit of thinking I did after reading parts of the Cluetrain Manifesto and comments from Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., publisher of the New York Times:

The industry is changing. This fact cannot and will not be ignored by those in all fields; however, it is particularly important when discussed in relationship with journalism, which must adapt to a society as described by The Cluetrain Manifesto. People are becoming increasingly plugged into the internetworked market—where journalism must make its presence known—and are becoming increasingly tired of the drab and superfluous—two titles that journalism must space itself from.

As Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. confidently states, we as journalists will continue to deliver exactly what the people want: content. Clear and concise content is a must for the future of journalism. However, clear and concise content might not be enough as the method of getting this content to the people changes. Although Sulzberger exaggerates with his idea of beaming information right into the consumer’s cortex, the truth of the matter is simple: journalism must find a means to reach its consumers in a world that is becoming more absorbed with the sensational.

How can journalism reach such an audience when it strives to be objective? The key manifests itself in the delivery. Who said that a news story could not be delivered with the same wow effect of a 3D motion picture? Who said that journalism could not step into the digital age and embrace the techniques that win some people Academy Awards? Certainly we cannot step too far into the realm of entertainment, which would take away any journalism organization’s credibility. However, my question is why do we set limits? Why do we hold ourselves back? Why are we stuck in the golden age of print when the platinum age of digital media lies right before us, within our grasp?

Digital journalism might not be as profitable. That fact is understandable. If I had wanted money, I would have become an actuary. Journalists do not take up the mantel looking to load their wallets; we do it as a service to the people who need news (or beyond that, high-quality news).

Digital journalism might not be as easy. Our newsrooms of the future may not house thousands of editors. In fact, our newsrooms of the future may be near nonexistent, as digital journalists work on the go, from Internet cafés and local Wi-Fi spots. This type of journalism will make up the new age, where journalists not longer congregate within large buildings and determine the rank and merit of the day’s news. Instead, the people will decide for themselves what is the top story. Along with the added competition journalists will face in appealing to the people, a new job will be placed upon their shoulders: the job of public relations. As The Cluetrain Manifesto stressed, people do not want an Ivory Tower organization; they want to talk to every person in that organization, and the power structure of said organization will come crumbling down. Every journalist will be a hyperlink away from their consumers, and every journalist must be open to questions, comments, and concerns of their readers. The future of journalism may not be in money or easy living, but I warn all journalists to never think that the future of journalism is dark. It is brighter than we could ever know.

  1. […] to Dan Gillmor: journalism must be “less of a lecture and more a conversation.” As I touched on previously, we as journalists must be prepared for direct interaction with the people we want to consume our […]

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