Journalism 3.0?
PRESENTED May 7, 2010

Boston University

By Chris Daly

Good morning, folks. Thanks for coming.

First of...
2


there were four jewels in the crown of American journalism:

--CBS radio




Another was…




--Life magazine
3
4


--Another was The Saturday Evening Post
5


--A fourth was The New York Herald-Tribune, home of Walter Lippmann.




Those powerful people and the taste-makers wo...
6


they knew it was essentially unthinkable without those institutions. Without

them, journalism would be weakened and t...
7


Along with all the years I spent in the field as a journalist, I have also had a

foot in another world – the academic...
8


was weekly, local, independent, often polemical. Almost no reporting.

      This is the version enshrined in the cons...
9


-PENNY PRESS:

Starting in 1833, newspaper editors begin making profound change.

Newspapers become a truly mass mediu...
10


They are VERY profitable. They declare independence from political

parties. They build the big-city daily paper into...
11


In the 1920s, two major new forms arrive: radio




and the weekly news magazine. (TIME, 1923)




From this point on...
12


New technologies – radio (and later TV)

New forms of ownership: the publicly traded stock corporation arrives in the...
13


Media became fat and happy.




Their market capitalization reached a peak around 2000.
14


     [This, incidentally, is the world many of us – journalism executives,

     journalism professors, journalism cr...
15




COULD BECOME A BLOGGER

            AND THEREBY ENTER “THE MEDIA”




The digital revolution, which is still unfold...
16


--One Impact is in ECONOMICS: low barriers to entry; smashing of

monopolies. Loss of ads and subscriptions.

      I...
17


small business.

Entrepreneurial journalism. This can be taught in a cross-disciplinary way

with SMG.




--A second...
18


Our students need at least a fluency in the new media, across platforms.



--Finally, the internet has had another i...
19


finished product. And it arrived at fixed times of day. Whether it was the

morning newspaper or an evening newscast ...
20




So, the fixed bundle is over, and here is the ramification for journalism

education:

It means the end of the heyd...
21


As I said earlier, the future is not my field.

But, of course, I am not making plans for the past. I am trying to ma...
22


I AM OPTIMISTIC.

I see a more nimble, flexible, entrepreneurial future for journalism.



IN FACT, The future is her...
23


      The most important might be: Talking Points Memo.




32




      Why?

      Because TPM makes money. It make...
24


        TPM was founded by Joshua Micah Marshall in November 2000, in

order to comment on the recount of the votes i...
25




THANK YOU.

I’d be happy to take questions.




                                  --30--
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Journalism 3.0

  1. 1. Journalism 3.0? PRESENTED May 7, 2010 Boston University By Chris Daly Good morning, folks. Thanks for coming. First off, I want to point out that this is an educational presentation (at least in intent) and so I will be sharing a lot of visual material, some of which is not in the public domain. I will not be revealing any military secrets, that’s for sure. I have been asked to talk about the future, but that is not my field. I feel much more confident talking about the past. So, what I propose to do today is talk about the past in a way that might inform the future. I want to examine the past to find those trends that have real momentum. Those are the ones likely to shape the future of our field. And that is what should inform our approach to journalism education. I would like to begin in 1950 with the following proposition: In 1950, all educated, affluent, influential Americans would have agreed that
  2. 2. 2 there were four jewels in the crown of American journalism: --CBS radio Another was… --Life magazine
  3. 3. 3
  4. 4. 4 --Another was The Saturday Evening Post
  5. 5. 5 --A fourth was The New York Herald-Tribune, home of Walter Lippmann. Those powerful people and the taste-makers would have agreed that life as
  6. 6. 6 they knew it was essentially unthinkable without those institutions. Without them, journalism would be weakened and the life of the nation would be diminished. Poof! They’re all gone. (They were all gone by about 1970) They are all on the great ash-heap of history. They were all victims of what Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction,” which takes place all the time in a dynamic, market economy. I want to spend some time today looking at that very dynamic at play in the field of journalism in America.
  7. 7. 7 Along with all the years I spent in the field as a journalist, I have also had a foot in another world – the academic study of history. It was my field in college and in graduate school. In the last 13 years or so, while I have had the privilege of teaching here at BU, I have also had the pleasure of diving back into the study of history. I want to talk today about my first great passion from the point of view of my second great passion. I want to talk about journalism’s future based on its past. This, then, will a quick slice through some of the material I cover in much greater detail in my book, Covering America (which has just cleared the peer review process at UMass Press) The period of convulsive change we are going through now in journalism is not the first. And it will not be the last. In this condensed survey, we will see some of the major changes on the way to the present. 5 eras: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 --COLONIAL: in the print shop, the printer/editor produced a paper that
  8. 8. 8 was weekly, local, independent, often polemical. Almost no reporting. This is the version enshrined in the constitution. QuickTimeª and a decompressor are needed to see this picture.
  9. 9. 9 -PENNY PRESS: Starting in 1833, newspaper editors begin making profound change. Newspapers become a truly mass medium. Steam makes it possible to print on the scale of tens of thousands in a single day. New editors like Benjamin Day and – later – Hearst and Pulitzer – discover what sells. It’s not business news or politics: it’s crime, scandal, sports, and services.
  10. 10. 10 They are VERY profitable. They declare independence from political parties. They build the big-city daily paper into a powerhouse of profit and influence. The Old Guard editors of 6-penny papers are, of course, appalled. They see the end of civilization. --“THE MEDIA” 1920s
  11. 11. 11 In the 1920s, two major new forms arrive: radio and the weekly news magazine. (TIME, 1923) From this point on, the news business goes through another deep transformation.
  12. 12. 12 New technologies – radio (and later TV) New forms of ownership: the publicly traded stock corporation arrives in the news business – via NBC, CBS, and TIME Inc. The radio and magazines begin their long siege of the daily paper: the radio wants the breaking news franchise (what just happened?) The magazine wants the analytical franchise (what does it all mean?) Over the next few decades, those news media proved very popular and profitable. So much so that they became targets of regular businesses. Which brings us to the rise of the BIG MEDIA. Often headquartered in and around Times Square, the big media grew dramatically in the late 20th century. Salaries rose, expenses rose. Media companies became assets in a global market.
  13. 13. 13 Media became fat and happy. Their market capitalization reached a peak around 2000.
  14. 14. 14 [This, incidentally, is the world many of us – journalism executives, journalism professors, journalism critics – spent our working lives in and therefore consider normal.] AND THEN, POW ! The digital era arrives. Suddenly, news is digital. That is a simple statement with a lot of implications. 1. Almost overnight, the value of the BIG 5 media companies cratered. By 2009, they were worth 10-20 % of their value at the start of the decade. 2. As in previous periods of deep change, there were predictions that the end was near. People said that any idiot with a modem could get into the news business. The future of news Any idiot… … with a modem…
  15. 15. 15 COULD BECOME A BLOGGER AND THEREBY ENTER “THE MEDIA” The digital revolution, which is still unfolding, has had a number of impacts. I want to look at the major impacts next … and consider the ramifications of each for journalism education. IMPACTS:
  16. 16. 16 --One Impact is in ECONOMICS: low barriers to entry; smashing of monopolies. Loss of ads and subscriptions. Internet threatens both sides of the DUAL REVENUE STREAM. It is a commonplace to observe that the web has upset the traditional business model. And it has. --Circulation: people expect it to be FREE, so they don’t pay --Ads: Craigslist stole classifieds; display ads migrate on-line. And they are not coming back to their historic levels, no matter how strong the economic recovery is. We can also see another powerful trend – a trend that will support a prediction. The shrinking of the giant transnational conglomerates. It’s the late cretaceous period, and these big dinosaurs have been struck by the asteroid. They are still lumbering around, but their day has passed. So, it makes sense to think that our students are not likely to do what many of us did: burrow into some giant company as a full-time employee with health benefits. More and more, our students will be self-employed, they will work for start-ups, or they will patch together a series of improvised arrangements. So, here is one ramification for us: It would behoove us to teach them something about starting and running a
  17. 17. 17 small business. Entrepreneurial journalism. This can be taught in a cross-disciplinary way with SMG. --A second impact of the digital revolution involves TECHNOLOGY: The digital technologies really change the game. For one thing, they bring us convergence; A look at four home pages is indicative. Look at the home pages for NPR, NYTimes, TIME, and CNN. All four feature stories, still photos, video, slideshows, audio. This points up another new reality: On-line news means that essentially ALL news organizations compete against ALL other news organizations ALL the time. NPR and TIME magazine are not really in different fields anymore. It’s a war of each against all. The digital revolution has also brought us backpack journalism; breakdown of older division of labor and guild lines. Here is the ramification that I see:
  18. 18. 18 Our students need at least a fluency in the new media, across platforms. --Finally, the internet has had another impact on the news media – one that is more profound still and yet to be fully grasped. That is, the web has shattered the old way of thinking about news delivery. The old model is broken. And, like Humpty Dumpty, it cannot be put back together. During the 20th century, we got used to the idea that the news arrived as a
  19. 19. 19 finished product. And it arrived at fixed times of day. Whether it was the morning newspaper or an evening newscast on TV. It was presented on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. It was a bundle of the staples of news: politics, disasters, business, sports, and weather. What the internet does is serve all of those a-la-carte. It deconstructs the bundle. And it does so on the user’s timetable and at the user’s level of granularity. You know that if there is a topic you are really knowledgeable and passionate about, you can find excellent coverage on the Web. If you want to find out what’s going on in Afghanistan, you might turn to the Times. But if you want sports, you will jump to Bill Simmons or ESPN. If you want to keep up with national politics, you will click on Politico or 538. If you want news about your neighborhood, you will find a hyper-local site. Better Crosswords, chess columns, you name it. Instead of a PRETTY GOOD version in a fixed bundle, anyone can now find a superior form of coverage, unbundled, constantly updated, available on demand…. And usually FREE! The question is: if the printed daily newspaper or the evening newscast did not exist today, would it make any sense to invent it?
  20. 20. 20 So, the fixed bundle is over, and here is the ramification for journalism education: It means the end of the heyday – not the end – of the old-fashioned generalist journalist who doesn’t really know anything but can jump from beat to beat. Such a journalist uses wits, energy, and technique to cover an election or an oil spill or a horserace. I think it’s quite likely that following the trend toward specialization, depth, and extreme expertise found on the Web, that our students will need to have mastery over content. They will have to know something. They will need, possibly, to be experts themselves. Certainly, they will need depth of knowledge and the tools to acquire knowledge on their own. Thus, we need to ramp up our offerings of content. Those are some of the major trends that I see driving change for the foreseeable near term. ++++++++++++ IN CLOSING…
  21. 21. 21 As I said earlier, the future is not my field. But, of course, I am not making plans for the past. I am trying to make plans for the future. And I hope to think about the future in a way that is informed by the past. My study of history yields three results: --Skepticism: Is something really unprecedented? Is this really the end of journalism? (After so many previous pronouncements, it’s hard to get too excited.) --Equanimity. When one thing passes, another takes it place. --Humility. (If there’s a “lesson” to history, it is that life is complicated and that things rarely turn out the way people intend) So don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. we also have to think about what we are doing right and what needs to be preserved. --ONE IS THE ABILITY TO TELL A STORY. NARRATIVE – this is a powerful literary device, an art form, and an organizing principle. --ETHICS AND VALUES ( like INDEPENDENCE AND SKEPTICISM) -- RESEARCH AND A DISCIPLINE OF VERIFICATION. Finally, Let’s return to the theme of “creative destruction.” Let’s focus for a minute on the creative end of Schumpeter’s famous formulation
  22. 22. 22 I AM OPTIMISTIC. I see a more nimble, flexible, entrepreneurial future for journalism. IN FACT, The future is here: It is TPM, it is Yahoo News, it is 538, it is Wikilieaks. The future of journalism is making money, and it is hiring. Digital Natives: Daily Kos, Instapundit, Huff Post – they were born on-line and have no existence in any other medium. They have no big pension obligations; they have no legacy costs like printing presses and fleets of trucks. They are lean and so they can make money as soon as a little bit of money starts coming in from on-line advertising. Some of these sites exist on sums that used to be rounding errors inside Time-Warner.
  23. 23. 23 The most important might be: Talking Points Memo. 32 Why? Because TPM makes money. It makes enough money to hire professional journalists. It has a newsroom in NYC and one in Washington and close to a dozen reporters.
  24. 24. 24 TPM was founded by Joshua Micah Marshall in November 2000, in order to comment on the recount of the votes in Florida in the presidential race. In Feb., 2008, he won a George Polk Award for his coverage of the way the Bush administration went about firing 8 federal prosecutors. He’s no idiot with a modem. In fact, he has a PhD. Oh, yes, his PhD is in history. [Meta-point: I am closing this presentation with an image of a smiling, forward-looking, money-making serious journalist/blogger, and over his shoulder are reporters who have jobs. -- CBD]
  25. 25. 25 THANK YOU. I’d be happy to take questions. --30--

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