A few weeks ago, I as I was sitting down in my 'office'* in The Daily Orange 'newsroom,'† I noticed a book sitting next to my curmudgeon office-mate, Andy. Noting the rather dilapidated state of his paperback, I read the title: The Powers that Be.
My curiosity piqued, I flipped through it, read a summary (a review of the "good ol' times" of journalism) and the copyright date (sometime in the 70s). What choice did I have but to mock Andy for reading out-dated literature about a now-dead job while wishing for the return of drinking on the job. I told him to do like me: read a few blogs instead.
Andy's a great guy – we get along really well, even if we disagree on… everything. His focus (both personally, and as the Enterprise Editor) is on improving the quality of writing and reporting around the paper. The rants about ledes and grammar Andy goes off on would make Wooward cry.
My job, as the Exponent of the Evolution, is on expanding the use of 'new media.' It's all about the blogging, podcasting, videos, tweeting… I'm also not the quality hound that Andy is. It's all about the 'version 1' for me; if we can just get something online: we've made progress. We can worry about improving the next version.
In a recent round of blog posts (1, 2, 3) responding to a Washington Post article on the victimization of the press, Jeff Jarvis writes:
The reason to take responsibility for the fall of journalism is to take responsibility for the fate of journalism. Who’s going to try to save it if not for journalists? We are indeed responsible for the future of journalism and we have about one minute to grab that bull by its horns.
-BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » It is our fault
Realization strikes: Andy and I aren't that philosophically far apart. We're both trying to 'save journalism' – through different routes.
Though I firmly believe that newspapers are the only medium that is doing true journalism nowadays (broadcast TV sure isn't), I think that the future lies in the ability of newspapers to adapt to the internet age. They've got to realize that blogging, the link, multimedia, commenting, and an unlimited newshole have forever changed the business.
Andy would rather focus on the basics – good reporting. He argues that the bar is constantly being lowered (an example) and saving journalism means raising it back up through better sourcing, good writing, etc.
I'm still think that reporting is the most important service a newspaper provides (sounds obvious, but tell that to the bean counters), and Andy is one of my premiere video podcasters. We're willing to recognize the strength of the other's arguement-–we just have different approaches to journalism.
Saving journalism is not just about moving a newspaper online, it's not about figuring out a new revenue model, it's not about multimedia, it's about finding the balance of all three to ensure the future of the media information industry.
And that future is… us. The current generation of college graduates who are aware of the what the internet can do, who aren't biased by the way things used to be (Andy possibly excluded). There is a gap of understanding between generation X & Y on the use of the web. With a younger, more tech savvy generation coming into the industry it's up to us to figure out how to meld the nutty world that the interweb has become into the the sphere of journalism.
The problems that the newspaper industry face right now can largely be overcome by realizing that we're not in the newspaper business, we're in the media information business. Those of us young'ins who are just starting in this industry have an idea of how to reinvent journalism to survive in the internet age.
If you've got a computer problem, who do you look to for a fix? You're nearest 15 year old who has already forgotten more about computers than you ever cared to know? Journalism has a computer-problem right now. Take a look at us young folks for a fix.
- My 'office' is more of a conference room.
† The Daily Orange 'newsroom' is a converted house. So there is no real newsroom floor, there are no real offices, we mostly consider ourselves lucky to have a desk and a roof.