Reforming Journalism From The Bottom, Up

It doesn’t take a genius to see that mass media is not the same today as it was 5 years ago or will be 5 years from now. A blend of social, economic and technological (especially) changes have practically made all classic business models for journalism obsolete. News is now more easily accessible online and on mobile smart-phones. This in turn has hurt local and major newspapers alike. And this accessibility has created an immense hunger for information that does not seem to let up. Because of this hunger, news is expected to be constantly updated. Every second of every minute of every hour is a deadline and journalists are held to that. Newspapers and other mass media mediums have been hit hard with the economic, social and technological changes of recent times. This has led to staff cuts and smaller budgets. It has also led to some newspapers to go bankrupt and stop completely. The Seattle P-I ceased publication back in 2009 and is now an online publication.

Journalists today are not necessarily dedicated writers or photographers, but do a little bit of everything. What I mean is that journalists today are writing, taking photos and shooting video as well as managing websites and even social networking accounts. This has been a pretty big undertaking for some, especially the veteran journalists who are still used to the old ways. Even broadcast news networks are having trouble adjusting. Russ Walker, Managing Editor for KING5 online, had mentioned to a few associates and I that younger people like having their news in smaller packages, such as short news clips. Walker believes that there should be more emphasis with online presence at KING5. Walker also mentioned though, that headquarters back in Texas are reluctant to invest more resources into making the online edition more of a priority. Some of the older crowd at KING5 have become acquainted with social media tools such as twitter to be more engaged with the community.

But some companies have slowly started adapting to this new era. The New York Times company implemented a pay wall back in March 2011. It was expected back then that the company could pull in $100 million in revenue. But what is really great with what they have done with this idea is that given the circumstances, the paywall is brought down; the most recent being this years presidential election and hurricane sandy.

With all these changes and struggles in the field of journalism as well as the evolving business models, where does reform start?

At the bottom, with colleges and universities.

This topic itself has become a cliché, yet at the same time, it conveys an urgency that educators need to get on the ball with changing the curriculum.

The Olympian did a “summer speaker series” with professionals in the journalism field. Below is an interview  with David Boardman, the Executive Editor from The Seattle Times. One of the things he talks about is keeping up with today’s technology.


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