Sunday, April 09, 2006

An "unconference" about saving news
(and a word about Jeff Jarvis)

In addition to the pointer in the post below, Dave Zeeck writes to ask if I have seen this discussion at BuzzMachine about a Philadelphia conference on the future of news. One of the key take-aways, from Jeff Jarvis:
I say this is the day that the war ends. This isn’t journalism against bloggers anymore. It never was, really. This is journalists and bloggers together in favor of news.
And Dave also asks, "Why is Jeff Jarvis one of your least favorites?" That question provides an opportunity I'd like to take to expand on the passing reference I dropped into a post last week.

If I'd been thinking more carefully, I would have resisted that cheap crack and said something like "Jeff Jarvis is one of my least favorite press critics – for the same reasons that he is one of my favorite voices discussing the future of news." My concern arises because I think Jeff's pronouncements too often tend to be apocalyptic and consequently disheartening for many newspaper journalists. When he writes that way about our need for fundamental change, he can engender the reaction I have heard Al Gore attribute to attitudes about global warming and climate change: "People tend to go straight from denial to despair." I don't think that helps.

You know me: I'm more inclined to the teach-from-success model: Catch them doing something right. But I do recognize Jeff as an informed and articulate voice for change, and I know he's looking for the same result as most of us: a future in which the essential attributes of real news -- independence, authenticity, verification -- can be preserved and presented, in whatever form audiences demand.

Make up your own mind: for those who haven't been following it (you should), his work is over at BuzzMachine.
– Howard Weaver


  1. Thanks, Howard. I agree. There's no real point in or profit to despair. I'd rather talk about what we CAN do. But that's why I liked some of the various blogster comments on the "unconference."

  2. Howard,
    Good criticism. I certainly don't try to be driving people to jump off cliffs. I'll keep that in mind next time I hit the alarm button. But then again, I do think that the industry has lacked a sense of urgency and that if they do not embrace rather than resist change, then they will be left behind. And I would regret that. So is it equally a disservice to be too comforting, to give the impression that there is time to bide on these issues? I'm a journalist, a newspaperman, and next a journnalism professor. Clearly, I value the craft. But I do believe that if the craft does not update itself, it is in danger. If I'm too loud or strident on that -- and I know that I certainly can be -- then I take the criticism. -j