Optimist to a fault

Here’s a Washington Post interview with me today, bringing out my optimism for journalism. Snippets:

Will journalism still make money?

I’m running a project on new business models for news to try to determine just that. It will primarily come from advertising still. The future of news in a market will not be one product from one company — I believe it will be an ecosystem of many projects. Foundation and publicly supported efforts will take up small but important aspects. . . .

You have a number of outspoken critics. What’s the harshest thing you’ve heard?

Being accused of dancing on the graves of journalists’ careers. I’m not. I’m training journalists. But it’s probably time for tough love. The problem is that journalism should have been reinventing itself utterly for this new media economy, and it didn’t. And you know it was probably naive of me to think that it could.

You had a long newspaper and magazine career yourself. What is it like to talk with former colleagues?

I just had that experience. I was in Mountain View to give a book talk at Google’s campus. So I went from that to the next day I saw an old friend from my days at the [San Francisco] Examiner who’s now at the Chronicle. After lunch we went up to the newsroom — and I blogged this — I was struck, saddened, by the darkness, dankness and dust of the newsroom versus the bright sunshine of the Googleplex. It made me sad. People I worked with who are very smart and cared a great deal are feeling quite stuck now and they didn’t have to. That’s what gets me.

I believe we should train them for this new world and it’s not hard to learn it. I’m 54 years old and I carry my flip video camera and I blog and live-blog and I Twitter, and I learned it, too, and so can any of these journalists. . . .

In your newspaper career, did you ever write obits?

Oh yeah.

Does it feel similar? The process of making people understand what’s happening to newspapers?

It’s actually the exact opposite. I’m writing a birth notice. With the Internet come incredible opportunities. And I can be an obnoxious optimist about this, and I know I am, but I really believe that. . . .