Teaching Examples

Who decides where journalism is heading?
May 17, 2006, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

In asking whether “convergence” is the next media disaster, Ed Wasserman points out that professional journalists (so far) have had precious little input in shaping the newsroom (and the news product) of the future.

Ed makes some excellent points, but I’m afraid the overall tone of the piece might make some journalists shake their fist in the air and shout, “Yeah! That Internet stuff is a pain in the neck, and we shouldn’t have to do it!” I don’t think that’s Ed’s position, but perhaps there are too many journalists who would like to read it that way.

While it’s true, I think, that publishers and various number crunchers come up with some ideas for “converging” operations that lead directly to a reduction in the quality of journalism, I do NOT think it’s true that all attempts labeled “convergence” are bad ideas that guarantee bad journalism.

Speed, for example. There is sloppy speed that leads to errors and libel and just plain poor reporting and editing. But speed might also kill complacency and the kind of ho-hum reporting that comes from being the monopoly information service in a town. That would be a good thing.

There is a lot to criticize in most convergence efforts to date. We would be wise, however, not to toss all journalism online and other “new media” into the same basket with badly executed convergence plans and practices.

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My opinion (http://ojournalism.blogspot.com/2006/05/is-convergence-next-media-disaster.html) is that we need to ask whether the round-the-clock publishing cycle that Ed sees as so threatening would be as bad if sufficient production staff were allocated to ensure quality. How do 24-hour TV news channels manage the same? And if you accept that argument, does not the daily publishing cycle of most newspapers also ‘threaten’ quality? Does it make a weekly newspaper better quality? Or a monthly magazine?

Speed certainly does threaten quality – many journalists will tell you how the pressure to publish and fill pages results in shortcuts being taken, but is this due to speed itself, or the lack of training to cope with that speed (editing practices), and the lack of staff to produce enough to fill that space?

Comment by Paul Bradshaw

Have a look at Tom Fiedler’s response to Ed:


Comment by Mindy McAdams

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