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It’s evolution, baby

I’m at peace. I’m the man buying stocks on the day of the crash. — Pearl Jam, Do the Evolution.

Moral of today’s story: I need less depressing reading material for when I can’t sleep.

What’s an out-of-work journalist to do late at night but read about the decline of the newspaper industry? Dan Conover also has an interesting post about where he thinks journalism is headed (like there’s a big shortage of opinions on that subject…)

There are scores of innovative ideas out there that will help reinvent journalism. A few will succeed; most won’t. On the whole, I enjoy studying new ways to provide people with information they find useful. As many people cheerfully point out, “It’s an exciting time to get started.”

Call me small minded, but I would argue it’s not so exciting if you’ve just been laid off. Sure, I like abstract media projects just as much as the next guy. I also like people covering city hall. I’m happy those job titles exist. I’m depressed that, increasingly, they don’t.

So there’s this coming apocolypse and those that don’t adapt will get left behind. I get it. I’m happy people are working on start-ups, some of which will fill the void left behind when/if major metros fail.

It’s really exciting to see news ventures such as TalkingPointsMemo, Texas Watchdog, Voice of San Diego and numerous other sites. It’s fascinating to read about C3 and commerce hubs. It’s really cool.

But before we get too excited talking about the big-picture of the journalism landscape and the neat new ventures that might replace the dinosaurs, let’s remember that we’re not talking about re-inventing the toaster. We’re talking about re-inventing an institution that is a key part of maintaining a healthy democracy.

Let me be clear. I’m bullish on journalism thriving — in the long run. I’m also incredibly sad to see once-proud newspapers shed talented journalists and become shells of themselves. I’m sad for those journalists, and for my own career, but I’m mostly worried about the communities those journalists used to cover.

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September 2017
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