Monday, January 3

What Now?

New Year's Resolutions for Newsroom Leaders:

Let's stipulate, as the lawyers say, that we all want to:
  1. Maintain a healthier diet.
  2. Exercise more regularly.
  3. Get control of e-mail.
  4. And paperwork.
  5. Blah.
  6. Blah.
  7. Blah.
All worthy goals. What now?

Good question from Scott Libin at Poynter.

The last item: Don't give up on journalism:

And finally: Don't believe everything you hear -- or read -- about journalism. Media-bashing is a time-honored tradition in our culture, and it's never been more politically fashionable than it is today. I still believe that what you do matters a lot, even if it doesn't always feel that way. It matters, too, that you be the one to do it. I'm saddened by the loss of the hundreds of journalists laid off, downsized, or otherwise unemployed through no fault of their own over the course of 2004. I find it almost sadder that so many others decided for themselves to leave journalism.

Ed Cone has managed to generate a lot of buzz for the "grassroots journalism" project he's doing at his local paper, the News-Record, including a hot mention by Dan Gillmor, who recently resigned his column at the Merc News. And Time has apparently named Powerline the blog of the year.

I like Ed's blog and his passion as blog evangelist, but c'mon, people have been doing local-global community news online ever since the Web was the Web. Indymedia, for one? The Ypsilanti Eyeball? What about the Web Citoyen movement in France? Sot al-Iraq? Where's the props to the founding generation? A lot of this "blogging revolution" crap is pure marketing and revisionist history, as far as I can tell. As a concerted push to coopt the Left's traditional monopoly on populist rhetoric and practice, it's a very smart, very cynical form of demagoguery fronted by a bunch of pious Pilates who declaim, "What is truth?" Sign me up for the hype but no readership school of thought.

As to Powerline: So a bunch of neoconservative think-tankers and corporate lawyers pulled off this year's triumph of "citizen journalism," did they? That's a little bit like cheering for an alternative ending to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in which the corrupt lobbyists prevail.

My IMHO recipe for rescuing the profession? Thin the ranks of the "content managers"--the blow-dried suits with the MBAs in marketing pushing "convergence" and "blogging" as a way of filling column inches and generating hits and Nielsen points while cutting "content" production overhead--and spend the money on decent salaries for foot-leather-burning reporters on the ground. There's your added value: writers with years of accumulated credibility who can afford to spend 24-7-52 on a beat.


Blogger Ed Cone said...

I think we can be interested in what's happening now without dissing the pioneers of a given genre. There does come a point at which a technology becomes so ubiquitous that it seems to be part of a revolution, even if early adopters have been bored with it for a while. In Greensboro, it's too early to tell what the N&R's blog efforts are going to yield, but their interest is important (I'm an instigator and commentator, but not directly involved in their blog strategy). Also interesting, related, and a step forward that seems more than just incremental is the emergence of a local online alt-media -- the sum total of local blogs, which create in aggregate something we have not had before. The ability of the N&R to interact with this independent network of blogs will be an important measure of its experiment's value. As a longtime professional journalist and a blogger, I'm happy playing both sides of the fence. -- ED CONE

1/03/2005 03:45:00 pm  
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