Reshaping the Newsroom: The Future of Journalism

by Dan Blank on January 11, 2008

Reshaping JournalismSteve Outing reached out to his network of colleagues in the news industry to find out what their biggest problem was:

“Everyone’s got work to do to put out the “daily miracle,” but in an era when the old industry model is in decline, we can no longer afford to have a workforce where the majority are solely doing the work of “putting out the paper.”

To evolve the newsroom culture in order to meet the changing needs of their business and audience, Steve suggests the following:

  • Involve every staff member in innovative projects, with firm timelines.
  • Train staff in new media skills.
  • Bring in creative outside experts to guide strategy.
  • Have a consultant work with each staff member to envision how their job can evolve.
  • Every staff member should participate in new media, such as blogs, social networks and microblogging.
  • More resources for online efforts.

Howard Owens takes this a step further, and lays out a curriculum of skills that a non-wired journalist should strive to complete:

  • Become a blogger.
  • Post photos to a sharing site like Flickr.
  • Create, edit and post 3 videos to YouTube.
  • Spend 2 hours a week on YouTube, watching videos and understanding how the culture of the site works.
  • Create a profile on social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace.
  • Use social bookmarking sites such as Del.icio.us, Mixx and Digg.
  • Start using an RSS reader.
  • Text message using a mobile phone.
  • Start using Twitter, the microblogging tool.
  • Report on your experiences with new media.

Scott Karp offers a phenomenal recap of thoughts from others in the news industry on how journalism and the news media needs to change.

When we talk about changing journalism, there tends to be fear that we will lose its inherent purpose. Many changes in the industry tend to be small steps that are well intentioned, but make no sizeable movement towards ensuring they are meeting the changing needs of their audience or business.

Two recent articles about well-known innovators offer interesting lessons:

  • The Story of the Apple iPhone
    “It may appear that the [cell phone] carriers’ nightmares have been realized, that the iPhone has given all the power to consumers, developers, and manufacturers, while turning wireless networks into dumb pipes. But by fostering more innovation, carriers’ networks could get more valuable, not less. Consumers will spend more time on devices, and thus on networks, racking up bigger bills and generating more revenue for everyone.”

  • A Profile on Google’s Founders and CEO
    “[Google CEO Eric Schmidt] remembers a day in 2002 when he walked into [Google co-founder Larry Page’s] office and Page started to show off a book scanner he had built. “What are you going to do with that, Larry?” Schmidt recalls asking. “We’re going to scan all the books in the world,” Page replied. Eventually, Google began to do just that.”

Perhaps the biggest example on why innovation is required to save journalism is the Wall Street Journal’s changing hands last year. The family that owned the business did not want to sell, but was given an offer that they – and their shareholders – couldn’t refuse.

Because the family did not ensure the business side was on stable footing… they could not simply protect their journalists by not selling. The business side is essential to the journalism side, and innovation is needed to ensure both have a healthy future.

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