The News Cycle Has Changed

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Photo By TheoGeo

Photo By TheoGeo

Lindsey works in art design in the deadwood business. She has written one of the best posts I’ve seen on her love of being in the newspaper business and her fears as she watches the ongoing bad news of her chosen profession.

Things are bad. Real, real bad. And they’re not going to get better. Things are changing, slowly but getting faster and faster, and it’s going to be painful for people who are used to the traditional way things have been, people who lived through the heyday of newspapers when there was such a thing as a news cycle. We are drenched in free information now, and there is no putting that cap back on the toothpaste tube now. Nor should there be. I love the internet and its capacity for not only entertaining but for getting more people up to speed on more things than ever before. I want newspapers to embrace the potential of the web and get out in front of trends and bring their hefty institutional weight to the online newsgathering process. I want newspapers — printed or no — to continue to be the publications of record. It’s a civic duty that I take seriously, despite my irreverent, profane blatherings to the contrary. I want us to be useful. No, not useful: indipensible. Aggressive and badass. Telling and showing. All that. I have high hopes for the types of journalism that will survive and thrive once the immediacy of the web is fully embraced. I want to see how much more careful and meticulous and accountable reporters and editors will have to be once they understand that their words carry fast and far on these tubes.

I’m in a weird spot because my job — the person who arranges stories and art on the page that will be printed — isn’t going to exist forever. My friends’ and co-workers’ jobs aren’t going to exist forever. What we can actively hope for is that we can grow and change and withstand the labor pains and find a niche for ourselves in the emerging media landscape. Learn how to do web design. Learn how to edit videos and audio and photos. Learn how to create content. How to aggregate content. All that and more.

If those aren’t words of wisdom, I don’t know what is. Lindsey is like a lot of us right now. We are waiting for the other shoe to drop and these are anxious times.

I did a bit of code yesterday under the tutelage of Sadcox. It was easier than I thought it would be and I grinned like a maniac. Lindsey and I are both are learning new things because we want to remain relevant because we love news.

As she said, the news cycle has changed.

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  1. Paul Chenoweth said January 16, 2009 | Permalink

    “Learn how to do web design. Learn how to edit videos and audio and photos. Learn how to create content. How to aggregate content. All that and more.” Great advice!

    It is the “all that and more” that seems to be really scary. It is almost like the web design, editing, content creation, and aggregation skills are a ‘basic’ expectation. Tapping into the depth of “all that and more” may be the only way to make oneself indispensable.

    The advantage that seasoned professionals have in the ‘deadwood business’ is the richness of experience that years of journalism bring…that, cannot be taught nor can it be acquired via any plop-plop-fizz-fizz method (I know. Try telling that to a boss faced with red ink on the bottom line). The uncomfortable news is that ‘continuing education’ requires an pervasive, task master emphasis on the ‘continuing’ part…and that applies to both the seasoned professional and the recently graduated.

  2. Nik Green said January 26, 2009 | Permalink

    As someone who works within the newspaper industry (but not journalism) I totally agree with these sentiments. However, I fear that from what I see in my own company, editorial staff and newspaper management in the main are not willing or wanting to accept this.

    They are fighting battles (perhaps understandably) based around keeping the existing model of news production on a printed page and management are fighting the battles of removing as many people as possible to keep artificially high profit margins (20%+)

    In the meantime they have both failed to notice that as peoples appetite for news is increasing, there particular medium is decreasing. If I hear another protestation that the downturn is ‘cyclical’ or that the ‘credit crunch’ is the root cause of declining advertising and sales I think I’ll scream. It is delusional to suppose when the economy is on the up all these advertisers will flock back to single edition printed advertisements, in the same way that people following a breaking story at 11pm on a Sunday night will wait to 1pm on Monday for the evening paper to cover it.

    News has become democratised by the web, but it still needs proper punctuation and authority, which is where news(papers) organisations can add value.

  3. newscoma said January 26, 2009 | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more with both of you.


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