Can the Statusphere Save Journalism?
Saturday, April 11, 2009; 7:22 AM
Recently, I enjoyed a refreshing and invigorating dinner with Walt Mossberg. While we casually discussed our most current endeavors and experiences, the discussion shifted to deep conversation about the future of journalism in the era of socialized media with one simple question, ?are newspapers worth saving??
Walt thought for no more than two seconds and assertively replied, ?It's the wrong question to ask. The real question we should ask is if whether or not we can save good journalism.? He continued, ?Think about it. Of the hundreds, thousands, of newspapers around the country, there are really only a few that matter. Good journalism and journalists, on the other hand, are worth saving.?
Indeed. Perhaps good journalists, intuitive and ambitious journalists, might figure out how to survive this Darwinian state of media evolution on their own. Others may need the help of early risk-takers and success stories before being able to individually adapt to the socialization of content.
My contemplative discussion with Walt explored the missteps of publishers and content producers and the corresponding opportunity for savvy individuals with relevant perspective combined with online social prowess. The persistent reverberation of those ideas in my head in the weeks to follow the exchange led me to explore the impact of the Statusphere on the authority of the blogosphere, as measured today. And it serves as my outline today.
Whether it's newspapers, television shows, or online mediums and networks, the shift is in consumption behavior, quality, relevance, and personality, not the production or distribution of content per se.
As Walt said, ?there are truly only a handful of media properties in print worth saving, the rest is comprised of great journalists and recycled national news.?
So what of those brilliantly articulate, passionate, and scintillating writers whom we identify, admire and connect with in each article they share?
It's not unlike the renaissance currently underway in the music industry. Artists are discovering that they have a Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) channel to reach fans and cultivate relationships. Those in touch with technology and the cultures of online societies can bypass traditional music production and distribution altogether.
I guess I'm saying that at a time when traditional routes to journalism careers are being questioned, exceptional journalists can create their own destiny. Their future is in their notepads (or laptops), ready to escape from paper to online and the real world.
The connection with readers, once established, multiplied, and fed, is seductive and unquenchable.
Personality, motivation, determination, and the ability to embrace risk and venture into unchartered and unpredictable territory is the only way to champion change and influence the direction of professional adventures.
Stop the Presses