Sunday, January 21, 2007

Okay, so now what?

Goodbye Gutenberg, the Winter 2006 editon of Nieman Reports, assembles an almost overwhelming assortment of articles and essays by journalists and others devoted to the changes facing newspapers nowadays. I've just started to read them (there must be nearly 50), but I wanted to give you a heads-up so you could get started, too.

The headline for this post comes from an essay by Geneva Overholser enouraging us to move beyond describing problems and lamenting losses; it's time, she says, to move on and starting asking about the future: Okay, so now what?

This is from the director of interactive at Swift Communications:
The days of our monopoly business practices are over. Gone, too, are the times when journalists can write a story for print only and reach a mass audience. The Harvard Business School professors, among others, advise that we can view this change as a threat or an opportunity. To choose the path of opportunity means rewriting job descriptions of everyone who now occupies the newsroom. It means looking for new partners and being willing to collaborate far outside of our comfort zone. And it means knowing that we have to cannibalize our print edition rather than grudgingly having it happen because of a corporate dictate.

And this from a Danish editor's first speech to his new, heavily unionized and change adverse newsroom:

We needed to stop talking about crises and insecurity and the need for someone to do something. We should do it. Change. Believe in the future. We should try something new by moving toward a totally media integrated newsroom. And learn while we do it. Having this destination would put us on a path with neither tracks nor pavement since nowhere else were journalists working in the same newsroom for several media at the same time. Yet the future I told them about—the one that would happen within 10 months—would find them working at new desks, with new colleagues and perhaps new editors, meeting new deadlines, using new tools, working new hours, and doing all of this with new media.

Leaving the meeting, an experienced reporter lowered his voice and told his colleague, "That guy might become a stress factor ...."

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