The Future of Journalism

My mind has been racing around this subject all week.

Over the weekend I had a double dose of brain candy that got me thinking about journalism and where it is all headed.

I don’t have any answers, but I wanted to start a conversation because I’m curious what you think.

First, I read The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman which Clarence Smith Jr. told me I had to read. I rarely read comics these days, but anything he tells me to watch, listen or read I always do. After all he is the man behind BOLD Edition which if you haven’t watched, read and viewed you really need to.

The comic focuses on the dark underbelly of the media at large and the length one organization will go to challenge it.

It is a great read that I suggest you all make time for. It isn’t easy or happy, but it is powerful and certainly works the brain in directions you may not want to take it. I’m still pondering some of the ideas in the book because I agree with a lot of them even though their tactics are more than a little over the top.

Then, I finally got to watch Page One, which is a documentary from last year about the NY Times and how it is trying to evolve, stay current and survive in today’s new world of media.

We all know that physically printed newspapers are folding up shop every day and it is a trend that I believe will continue. In five years if you want a printed newspaper, you’ll be paying a steep premium to get one if they are even available.

But, with all this change I firmly believe that we still need journalism. We need long form, highly researched and fact checked stories on all sorts of topics. We need photo journalists capturing the moments of our time and shining a light on things people don’t want us to see. Audio and video reports from all corners of the globe and close to home need to continue to be produced and shared.

I look at what my friend Dan Patterson is up to with his newly launched KoPoint as one direction for journalism. Dan is not just another blogger, he is a true journalist with the credentials to prove it. Yet, he doesn’t report to any one master or editor like traditional journalists. He reports the news he wants to share and stands by his integrity and professional compass to make the decisions of what is “fit to print” or not. He doesn’t have to work for a major network or publication to get his stories out there. THAT is the big shift.

Journalism won’t die and for that I’m happy. The way we get our news is changing rapidly and I can’t wait for it to be shook up even more.

The fact that I can’t sit down and watch news without celebrity gossip and giggling people behind the news desk bothers me. I miss the days when the morning news shows were about the news rather than who is sleeping with who.

Where do you think this is all headed? In ten years where will be getting the news and how will journalists make a living reporting that news?

It is going to be interesting to watch, participate in and help if I can.

  • I miss the days when the morning news shows were about the news rather than who is sleeping with who.

  • I miss the days when the morning news shows were about the news rather than who is sleeping with who.

  • Marc Zazeela

    CC. Great perspective. I hope that modern journalists don’t cave in to the pressures of the Internet where they will create “headline” journalism, much like the tabloids.

    Sadly, we are becoming a society that relishes snippets of information without much context. I sincerely hope that true journalism survives, but I am not sure if we are smart enough to really want it to?


  • CC – Add to your list of must-view the 1970’s movie “Network.” It accurately represents the result of a) corporate ownership of TV, and b) what happens when news becomes a profit center instead of a public service. Anyway, I too decry the intellectual bankruptcy that seems to infest news, particularly broadcast news. My broadcast instructor was a former reporter (the only radio reporter on live when RFK was shot), and even 25 years ago he inveighed against the triviality of broadcast news. He told an anecdote about the debut of KFWB-AM, the first all-news radio station, saying that he and his colleagues looked forward to having the time to cover stories in depth. Instead, we got “you give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world.”  Now, it’s “short attention span theater” 24/7.  I think the only reasonably serious news program left on TV is Jim Leherer on PBS. 

    As for print — it must migrate from time sensitive news to analysis. Everything timely is on the interwebs in an instant. As a result, however, it’s got a better than even shot at being wrong. The crowds aren’t very wise, nor do they make even a pretext of objectivity. My j-school instructor said it wasn’t really possible to be objective, but we had an obligation to be fair, and to bring in as many sides to an issue as there were. (See Bernard Goldberg for the concept that every issue had only two sides…)

    Journalism will continue, but maybe the ProPublica model will win out (non profit and philanthropically funded), or maybe enough people will sign up to pay. Or, we’ll continue our current downward spiral, growing less and less informed with substance and more and more by ephemera (See Harold Innis…)

  • Tam

    CC, have you heard of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard?  My friend, Josh, is the director of the Nieman Journalism Lab.

    From their site: In 2008, the foundation established the Nieman Journalism Lab,
    which aims to identify best practices in journalism and emerging
    business models at a time when the industry is experiencing rapid
    change. The project illustrates how new media tools can help print
    journalists successfully make the transition to digital journalism while
    maintaining high journalistic standards.

    I don’t know if that’s something you’d be interested in getting involved with, but since it’s in your backyard, it might be worth taking a peek at. (If you do reach out to Josh, tell “Cajun Boy’ that Tam says hi.)

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  • noyesjesse

    This was, and continues to be, my favorite summation of everything that’s wrong with the news industry.

    As a former reporter in Boston, it’s easy to see how young, idealistic journalists can quickly burn out when forced to stand in street, desperately seeking one or two workable quotes about the latest salacious gossip about a Kardashian from ordinary people who for the most part couldn’t give a damn, when there are hurting, hungry, unemployed people who would just love to tell their story — if only that sold papers or made ratings.