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October 23, 2008

Why Journalism Is Missing The Boat

I've been meaning to point to Jeff Jarvis's rant about who/what has ruined journalism:

The fall of journalism is, indeed, journalists' fault.

It is our fault that we did not see the change coming soon enough and ready our craft for the transition. It is our fault that we did not see and exploit -- hell, we resisted -- all the opportunities new media and new relationships with the public presented. It is our fault that we did not give adequate stewardship to journalism and left the business to the business people. It is our fault that we lost readers and squandered trust. It is our fault that we sat back and expected to be supported in the manner to which we had become accustomed by some unknown princely patron. Responsibility and blame are indeed ours.

He's writing in reaction to other recent pieces pointing the blame elsewhere, but even as he slams Paul Farhi's analysis as little more than apologia, he himself over-simplifies his argument by about half. The failure of newspapers is a massive failure of business rather than a failure of journalism. Newspaper readership has gone up substantially in the past decade, as the internet took hold. It's rare that innovation in an industry actually comes from inside that industry. Still, it a was business decision not to plow some of those over-sized profits into reinventing news. Even now, after waves of layoffs, average newspaper profits are above 20 percent. Are you kidding me?

Jeff is entirely right when he talks about the failure of imagination within the news industry when it came to the internet:

The internet does not just present a few glittery toys. It presents the circumstances to change our relationship with the public, to work collaboratively in networks, to find new efficiencieslink, to rethink how we cover and present news. No, the essence of the problem is that we thought the internet represented just a new gadget and not a fundamental change in society, the economy, and thus journalism.
Unfortunately, one has only to look at the average newspaper website to understand just how true it is. 
October 23, 2008 8:23 AM | | Comments (0)

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