The future of journalism is not its past

The future of journalism is not its past

: Tim Porter writes his best post ever — Jay Rosen beat me to calling it that — about pathological resistance to change in newsrooms and journalism. It’s probably a good portrait of fear of change in any industry undergoing restructuring, only the situation is even tougher in journalism because it is an industry inflated with hubris as well as true principle — an industry that doesn’t even like to think of itself as an industry.

I’ve spent more than a third of my career trying to bring change to news media and I’ve been amazed hearing the notion that news should not change. Why not? The world is changing. The public and its needs and wants are changing. The technology is changing. The opportunities are changing. The competition is changing. The economics are changing. Why shouldn’t newsrooms change?

As Tim reports, the discussion is usually not about moving forward — and taking advantage of this change, embracing it — but, instead, about wanting to move back: back to when there were more people, there was less competition, the insiders had more power, and we had better bars (well, actually, that last one is mine… but it might help with the bad mood Tim finds):

The amount of anger and hostility, of distrust and suspicion, of inertia and ennui that pollutes the journalistic environment in these newsrooms at first surprised me….

It is a venom whose toxicity, fed by the same sort of outwardly-directed anger and suspicion that floods the waning days of all diminishing industries, weakens all hope these reporters and editors and photographers have of imagining a future in which journalism survives but its form is vastly different….

The obdurance and avoidance endemic in newsrooms rests on a bedrock belief that the “problems” at their newspapers are best solved with more bodies or a return to a more “traditional” form of journalism….

In these same newsrooms where the nattering nabobs of nostalgia pine for days of yore, there are also forward-thinking reporters and editors and photographers who envision and are working to create a journalistic future built on new story forms, deeper community connections and more truth-telling and watch-dogging….

We are in a time of great transition in journalism. The tectonics of technology, demographics, economics and lifestyle are disrupting the ground on which newspaper journalism stood for half a century. Survival requires nimbleness, openness and a sense of the possible. The intransigent and the angry and the incurably nostalgic will fall into the cracks….

There’s much more. Read it all.