What the Future Holds
This question is on everyone's
mind: Should we as young journalists be afraid of the future? Young reporters
are being laid off right and left, even those with video and Web experience.
It’s scary. What should we do? What do we have to look forward to? Where is the
newspaper industry headed? -- Fearing the Future
The journalist, author and teacher
Hodding Carter III sums up your concerns this way: “This is the most creative
time ever to be a journalist – if you are not in search of the past.”
Where’s it all heading? Nobody
knows. Some of the best minds in journalism and future-think work night and day
trying to figure it out. Whoever gets it right first will be rich.
In the meantime, this is a
cyclical period of shakedown. Happens all the time, without fail, in times of
great change and uncertainty. What is shaking down (and out) is the old: The
traditional newspaper business model, newsroom structure, reporter and editor
roles, the role of the reader/consumer/citizen, to say nothing of the
traditional mode of delivery – i.e., hulking Sunday papers, stuffed with ads,
on a truck.
I, for one, agree with those who
say that the paper part of newspaper will one day be a nostalgic
memory. But the news part -- and thus, the need for good journalism --
is more important than ever, given the complex world we inhabit.
News is as vital to a democracy as
air is to a living being. What news looks like is changing as we speak.
I urge you to look at Everyblock.com (http://www.everyblock.com/about/) as an example of how “news” and its delivery are changing.
As Adrian Holovatay, the “computer-programming
journalist” and EveryBlock creator, says: “Isn’t news what appears on the front
page of The New York Times? Isn’t news something produced by
professional journalists? Well, it can be — and we include as much of
that on EveryBlock as possible. But, in our minds, "news" at the
neighborhood or block level means a lot more. On EveryBlock, ‘Somebody reviewed
the new Italian restaurant down the street on Yelp’ is news. ‘Somebody took a
photo of that cool house on your block and posted it to Flickr’ is news. ‘The
NYPD posted its weekly crime report for your neighborhood’ is news.”
For other glimpses of what the
future might hold, go to the Knight News Challenge winners Web site: http://www.newschallenge.org/winners/2008.
Here you will find entrepreneurs solving problems by figuring out how to
deliver news to communities in innovative ways using the latest technology.
Finally, remember: Communication
has gone through numerous upheavals and revolutions, from the printing press in
the 1440s, to the telegraph in the 1830s, to the personal computer in the 1970s
and ’80s, to the digital revolution of the 1990s. Each shift caused great
uncertainty. Each brought a shakedown. We have survived every time.
Embrace it. This is, as the Old
Bard put so well so long ago, a Brave New World indeed!
About the column
Ask the Coach is updated regularly. Have a suggestion for
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Read Mary Ann Hogan's biography.
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