Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What if the N.Y. Times just quit?

     That's the proposition Michael Hirschorn throws out in The Atlantic in a rambling, full of fact and supposition, challenging essay. Hirschorn at least plays lip service to the real loss, which would be in reporting and, frankly, gatekeeping. The gatekeeping role so hated by both political wings of America is needed more than ever now, I think.  Who knows how accurate that story on Google News is when I don't know anything about the writer or publication?  I'm reading Indian papers now that go on and on about Pakistani lies. Accurate? Propaganda? I don't know. If I had read them for a year, I'd know whether they were independent or just mouthed a line.
      Anyway, the essay is well worth reading just for sparking your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What should I be telling students?

What should journalism professors tell students about the future? According to answers from a variety of journalism professors across the country, the answer varies from "find a new profession" to be versatile and take a long view of journalism.
I come down in the latter camp. While the newspaper industry is foundering, media, in my view, has never had better opportunities for excellent work. I cannot imagine how much better my work would have been if I'd had the tools available now, even when I was an editor at the Journal Sentinel, which, in my view, is just now beginning to scratch the surface of melding print and the Internet.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Something old, something new, something borrowed, maybe newspapers won't be so blue

OK, it's really a feature about a newsstand, but this story in the London Independent about a bookseller's antique newspapers, I think, contains some information that today's press barons could use. Looking at newspapers from a highly-competitive era, one is struck by their focus, drive, and initiative. They didn't sit around bemoaning their competition, they outworked it. They didn't cut features and writers, they added them. They didn't alienate readers by running stories that didn't interest them, they honed their offerings. It sounds like a better plan than any I've seen lately.

Excuses, excuses, excuses

      I got an email from a "regular viewer" asking why I haven't been posting more lately, so I guess I'd better at least warn those few of you who aren't family members that it'll be another week or so before I get back to regularly reviewing what's happening in the media world.  I am part of a team conducting a media workshop in Ahmedabad, India, which is taking tons of time (besides, and don't go all jealous on me, I'm blogging on a regular basis  from India at Steve's Excellent Adventures in India).
      Actually, that gives me a chance to touch on one of the themes that has so disrupted the old media world these days. Two incidents with students let me realize the reach of the new media.  One of the students came up to me today to chuckle over an incident I reported yesterday on the other blog. She said she reads it every day, and that I'm capturing India quite well (OK, she's learned the fine art of sucking up; it still indicates the reach of new media). The second was similar. One of the students is a reporter for the Times of India. He was talking about this blog, which he found by researching me through the Internet. He said he found this blog quite useful. Yes, as I look back at the posts, many of them are America-centric, but a good number aren't, and the world isn't sitting still.
      The Indian students are, almost to a person serious about their journalism. Almost all of them talk about working for newspapers, even as I've been involved in setting up an online version of their school's newspaper. The dream is still alive in Ahmedabad.