Many of us are joining the ranks of main stream media with regular frequency. What began as a blog started to share information, learn, publicize our business and skills, has provided a bridge to the pages of known publications. For example:
- Steve Rubel writes for AdAge
- David Armano contributes to BrandWeek/AdWeek
- John Moore contributes to BrandWeek
You might be interested in learning that when I tried to search for posts by David and John on BrandWeek, I came up empty. I knew about their contribution as they both post links on their blogs. It puzzles me that although these publications invite the contribution from established writers, they would do such a poor job at retaining that content for future reference.
Conversely, there are many journalists who have been open to new media and started personal blogs. I read two regularly:
Clearly main stream news media has come a long way from just a few years ago when:
- In April 2003, The Hartford Courant required a travel editor and former columnist, Denis Horgan, to stop posting commentary to his weblog.
- A month earlier, CNN reporter Kevin Sites was told to discontinue posting to his blog, which featured first-hand accounts of the war in Iraq. According to a CNN spokesperson, "CNN.com prefers to take a more structured approach to presenting the news. ... We do not blog."
- Similarly, Time magazine editors instructed reporter Joshua Kucera to stop posting reports from Kurdistan to his weblog.
Yes, online publications have added blogs to their indexes. And as we learned in our conversations with BusinessWeek and the BBC, these are authored by journalists on staff. But this also means that we are still crossing over on a regular basis to each other's domains -- if there is such a thing these days anymore. Bloggers generally don't get paid to author articles for main stream publications; journalists who have their personal blog do so outside the compensation agreements with their employers.
2003 was the year that Chris Willis and Shayne Bowman of Hypergene, a media consulting and design firm, penned a white paper titled We Media on how audiences are shaping the future of news and information. The premise:
We are at the beginning of a Golden Age of journalism — but it is not journalism as we have known it. Media futurists have predicted that by 2021, "citizens will produce 50 percent of the news peer-to-peer." However, mainstream news media have yet to meaningfully adopt or experiment with these new forms.
Historically, journalists have been charged with informing the democracy. But their future will depend not on only how well they inform but how well they encourage and enable conversations with citizens. That is the challenge.
Citizens have become stakeholders in the news process.
[image from chapter 1]
Does participatory journalism — the process of collaboration and conversation between media and the audience — ultimately help create better stories and better storytellers? My vote goes to yes. Whenever the voice of the writer behind the story comes to the fore, the story comes alive. And of course we know that the blogosphere keeps those stories alive for much longer than a news cycle. Some have talked about the echo chamber effect.
Have main stream media news organizations changed as a culture? I'd love to ask journalists who read this blog the question. Have they embraced the fact that they do not own the story?
I am reminded of famous theater director Peter Brook who treats theater less as a product than as a process: a collaborative means of exploring life's mystery. When interviewed he once told of an African man who said "I put my story down so that someone else may pick it up."
Many questions still remain open.
What happens to the news organization profit model now? Will we keep diving into micronews (Matt calls it micromedia) and hyper local formats with witness-generated content? What is new media? Will new media re-imagine journalism?
It seems to me that we have come full circle "I put my story down, so that someone else may pick it up." All this is the future of we media.
UPDATE: Bruno Giussani left a very comprehensive comment with reflection on journalism and international media. An excerpt: The key question remains: how will the necessary journalism be organized and be paid for in the future? The best journalism on TV today is either paid for by the public through mandatory fees (BBC) or paid for by philanthropic and corporate-social-responsibility money (Bill Moyers on PBS): is that the model of the future? more