Wednesday, April 01, 2009

In writing this, I am avoiding a very heavy assignment due tomorrow morning. Around the corner from 29, even I am proof that old habits die hard.

Some musings... There is a panic, among journalists and people who care about journalism, about the state of the industry. Papers are collapsing. Newspaper people are getting laid off. Veteran journos are looking to 12-year-olds for advice about Twitter.

Everyone wants to know how to make money with the Web. Is it possible? How do we do it? Some people say that non-profits are the way to go. But then those opposed to the .org model believe non-for-profit endeavors will eventually fall victim to the desires of whoever does provide the money (as if that doesn't happen with corporate news organizations already).

All of the chatter is rather maddening and it's clear that no one has a clue. Everyone says some "out-of-the-box" thinking is in order, but all anyone is doing is repeating and reorganizing various elements of tired ideas IN the box.

But let's say this: Let's say that newspapers as a concept are dead. Then what? Let's accept that NO ONE in the future will ever read a newspaper. THEN WHAT?


Let's say advertising CAN'T make papers profitable anymore. It's just not an option. Then what? Where does the money come from? Doesn't anyone think that having a business model effectively based on ONE form of revenue INHERENTLY FLAWED? So now what?

I think if we start to imagine a world without newspapers, we'd get much closer to real solutions. Because right now, most people are trying desperately to cling to the notion at the other end of the idea spectrum. If the truth (or solution) is somewhere between the extremes, let's start at the polar opposite of a world WITH papers, then work our to the middle.

And in terms of money, let's cut out the whole notion of advertising. Surely there are products that rely income generated for its value and not for it's power to distribute tag-along information. So how do we make news more valuable? A very tough question...

So I guess the point of my ramble, aside from avoiding my work, is that I haven't really heard too many new ideas about the direction of journalism from anyone in the field. They are all too terrified, or too trapped in their own panic, to start asking the scary questions that might lead to real solutions (not that I am suggesting I know better, or even that my two measly ideas mean anything). But I do think it would be good to start hearing a little dialectic about all this. It just doesn't make sense to feel more secure clinging to a crumbling cliff than taking a leap, possibly into the unknown, for the chance of a new and different landing.

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