Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

MediaWatch: Why Some Journalists Won't Transition To The New Journalism

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 28, 2008

Amy Graham over at Poynter.org has written a great article about the attitudes of some journalists towards the changes happening in the industry.

  • The only journalism that counts is that done by mainstream news orgs, especially in print or broadcast form. Alternative, independent, online, collaborative, community, and other approaches to news are assumed to be inferior or even dangerous.
  • Priesthood syndrome: Traditional journalists are the sole source of news that can and should be trusted -- which gives them a privileged and sacred role that society is ethically obligated to support.
  • Journalists and journalism cannot survive without traditional news orgs, which offer the only reliable, ethical, and credible support for a journalistic career.
  • Real journalists only do journalism. They don't dirty their hands or distract themselves with business and business models, learning new tools, building community, finding new approaches to defining and covering news, etc. As the Louisville Courier-Journal staffer Mark Schaver said just this morning on Twitter, "[Now] is not a good time [for journalists] if you don't want your journalism values infected with marketing values."
  • Journalistic status and authority demands aloofness. This leads to myriad problems such as believing you're smarter than most people in your community; refusing to "compromise" yourself professionally by engaging in frank public conversation with your community; and using objectivity as an excuse to be uncaring, cynical, or disdainful.
  • Good journalism doesn't change much. So if it is changing significantly, it must be dying. Which in turn means the world is in big trouble, and probably deserves what it will get.

She goes on to say:

I realize that right now is a scary time for journalists who crave stability. I have immense sympathy for good, smart people (many of whom have families to support and retirements to plan) who fear the unknown. Many of the news orgs that have sheltered and supported these journalists as they ply their craft are crumbling due to their inability or unwillingness to adapt their business models -- leading to layoffs, buyouts, attrition, dwindling resources, overwork, and general demoralization.

This is why I got out and why I urged my colleagues to do the same:

. . .when too many people in any culture are in despair, that culture can easily become toxic (overwhelmingly negative to the point of becoming self-destructive or self-defeating).

I strongly agree with this statement:

. . .right now is a time of immense opportunity for journalism and journalists to take on a broader and even more vital role in society. It's a chance for journalists to not only continue doing good work, but maybe also to have more impact than ever before.

Journalism: A Toxic Culture? (Or: Why Aren't We Having More Fun?)

The future of journalism is to help individuals, communities, and organizations tell their stories. And to teach them how to tell their stories. The more we know about each other the less strange we will seem to each other, and that will help eliminate conflict and help our societies make the best decisions.

This is the best time since the invention of the Gutenberg press to be a journalist, imho.






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