Cutting journalism away from the old print models
Dan Farber, long-time Silicon Valley watcher, and a veteran journalist, has been around this industry for a long time. Dan kindly provided a report on the Churchill Club event I missed and dropped it into the comments section of the story.
Dan's piece is a great example of online journalism, or rather, the new kind of online journalism that is emerging and made possible by this blogging phenomenon. It allows journalists to communicate ideas and tell a story much more efficiently than ever before.
Most online news stories currently mirror print stories in many ways --- they both look very similar except that there are some web links in the digital version. But journalists, even if they write for print and online, are often asked to write to a specific length. For example, news stories might all have a uniform length of 450 words, while a news analysis is 1200 words. That is clearly a legacy from the print business model.
Online, if you can tell a news story in 150 words why stretch it 400? If it's a 50 word story--that's fine. Yet a lot journalists are quite good at filling up space, because most started in print journalism. I need another 50 or 100 words, our desk editors might demand, because they redesigned their pages and the deadline is minutes away. So you quickly bash out words to fill the space, background info, a share price, a couple of sentences about what happened last week. It doesn't take the story on further. It is just words taking up space, and that, IMHO, is unfair to readers.
But within the blogging format, journalists can be succinct and use their own voice. Dan demonstrates one of the core values an experienced journalist brings to this world of online information --- the ability to tell a complex story in very few words. That's a skill that should be highly valued in today's information overload society. And it would be, if it were scalable...!