The new news mindset

It’s so great to see more and more news executives face the tough questions in the business and recognize the fundamental and urgent change upon them. Chuck Peters, CEO of a newspaper and TV company in Iowa (and the guy who created a blog bridge to the outside world from behind the closed doors of the recent API news CEO meeting) wrote a good post this weekend about the need for a new mindset in staff, a new understanding of the value of news organizations, new jobs and tasks for everyone, and a new and more open relationship with the community.

Peters summarizes the state of mind of news organizations:

As we work to develop this new game, or business model, within our own company, conflicts arise. Those who see the future, but can’t articulate it, are frustrated. Those who see the future and want to make it happen quickly are very frustrated by those who don’t even perceive the need for a new game. Those who don’t perceive the need for a new game are frustrated by all the commotion.

“We cannot continue to focus on products,” he says wisely. “Products are just nodes on the network, promotional flags to local intelligence, in context.” He also argues that they must change every job:

It is my strong belief that an organization such as ours, with over 500 employees, cannot expect that we can change all the mindsets and pursue a new game by simply repeating the forces and ideas driving the change in a series of seminars or links to interesting articles. We need to change the tasks, titles and organization so that we are doing new tasks, in new ways, and making the results of our efforts available immediately to our communities as we begin the larger task of organizing all this information elegantly.

  • Si

    One thing concerning me is the current over-emphasis given to adapting to the ‘new’ at the detriment of fundamental news values. Industry commentators (yourself included) are understandably keen to promote the various ways in which news organisations need to evolve in order to survive the current digital revolution. But surely the importance of old school, bread and butter journalism standards like accuracy, thorough investigation and wise editorial judgement still need to be highlighted? Sacrificing accuracy for speed seems to be of particular relevance.

  • Si,

    Absolutely. Just to reiterate, here’s what I said in a post about new new scenarios for news: “Note well that none of this is new. The essential functions of journalism – reporting, watching, sharing, answering, explaining – and its verities – factualness, completeness, fairness, timeliness, relevance – are eternal, but the means of performing them are multiplying magnificently. That is why I so enjoy teaching journalism, because we need no longer pick a medium and its tools for a career but can select them every time we need to tell a story – and because journalism is no longer about preservation (it never should have been) but is instead about change and growth.”

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