Friday, October 23, 2009

Dan Rather says newspaper are a must for America

     Dan Rather comes to the defense of newspapers, saying they are vital to America. “When we speak of the future of journalism, let us fully understand that quality journalism of integrity is currently in decline and in peril,” he said. 

     “Press serves as a reminder of the constitutional protections and responsibilities of journalism in our democratic republic,” Rather said. “It was not for nothing that this nation’s founding fathers placed freedom of the press right alongside freedom of speech and freedom of religion in the very First Amendment of the Constitution up at the top of the Bill of Rights.”

Newsday prepares to limit online views

    Newsday prepares to close its Internet site to all but subscribers. This observer sees it as a colossal failure. Be interesting to see how everything works out.

     Here's a different view.  And check out the comments on the Tribune's Eric Zorn's blog.

Crowdsourcing with real journalists

As to good journalism, Advertising Age talks with the editors of Mother Jones magazine about, among other things, it's foray into crowdsourcing using real journalists. Crowdsourcing is the theory, popular with new media types, that a mass of people reporting on a story will give a more complete version with participants correcting each other. Co-editor Clara Jefferies says the project on global warming will be discussed at a meeting soon: "participants at the initial meeting will likely include Slate, Grist, The Atlantic, Wired, Pro Publica, the Center for Investigative Reporting, MoJo of course, and maybe one or two others."

This is more evidence of maturing in new media, and a dedication to getting things right. This, frankly, is an exciting project, and I hope it does well. I'm currently setting up a journalism project for a graduate class with input from at least the Journal Sentinel and WISN-TV. While Marquette students will do the reporting, they'll do it with guidance and advice from the other professionals.

Gawker post takes on Chicago Tribune's former management

Speaking of new media, interesting post on by a former Chicago Tribune staffer attacking its previous management based on plans by the New York Times to hire several of them to create a Chicago insert for the Times.

Be sure to read through to the comments, though. I think the poster, John Cook, hurts his case by painting the Tribune in over-broad strokes. Yes, it was stuffy, and its local reporting wasn't as great as it could be (in large part because of the City News Bureau, which Cook dismisses, but which did good reporting), but -- especially at times -- the newspaper produced great reporting. I never worked for the Tribune, but I always read it, and consistently found good reporting included.

And, before I leave the subject, this Gawker post is almost exactly what's wrong with much of the new media. It has the germ of a good idea, but overstates its case with no attempt to provide any other side than that of a disgruntled former Tribune staffer. It is primarily an opinion piece with a few, very few, facts included, and almost none to support Cook's basic argument. It would have been much stronger with some effort to provide a complete story. It might still have made the same argument, but would give us readers more than just one writer's opinion.

What's ahead for journalism schools? Two views

With the U.S. projecting growth in journalism jobs (2% increase in jobs for journalism graduates and 10% for experienced journalists) and increases in journalism school enrollments, what can we expect from schools and future journalists? Here, two leaders of Eastern schools give their opinions.

Their observations show a realistic appraisal of what's happening today, I believe, and a maturing of understanding of the roles of new media and "citizen journalism." While delivery systems are continuing to change, the need for professional journalism increases as "citizen journalists" (read: bloggers and other opinion vehicles, which fills the Internet). These whet consumers' appetites for verified news, and the search for truth has never gotten more important.