At a very difficult time, a transitional period for journalism and western media industry (European and American), where most media “bleed red ink”, we, journalism professionals, need to reconsider every aspect of our workflow and beyond: how to survive, how to produce and distribute news in an era where all news are global, how do we make content relevant to local communities, how do we keep housing institutions alive? Should we keep them? Do they serve democracy? Actually, do we serve democracy?
No matter what the future brings, people would always want to learn about the world, what and why is something happening.
What and why yes, but from whom they will learn it? From algorithms and machines? Part time citizen journalists? Traditional publishing institutions housing journalist? Or social media and digital networks?
Let’s forget journalism for a moment. People, still need and buy shoes today, but they almost never visit the shoemaker anymore. Try even to trace one next to your house…
Is progressive obsoleteness a reality for legacy newsrooms housing full time paid journalists? At least in some places of Europe, it seems so.
And what about the rest of the news institutions of the Fourth Estate: newsroom executives, editors and managers. Do we still need them? Do they still matter for the work delivered to our audience?
So, just what are news institutions, anyway?
Consider this statement for a moment: “Facebook is critical to the news ecosystem, yet it is organized along lines that are out of synch with anything we would recognize as a journalistic organization; it’s presence alters the context of that question.”*
Dear reader, can you imagine how many of those networks and platforms exist today, and if they make news institutions obsolete?
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the post-industrial journalism.
That is for the form. What about the essence? Is media content relevant today?
The disruptive effects of the internet redefined almost everything.
Lets wake up and smell the coffee; check what is happening in other industries: Uber and Airbnb just smashed the old and established way of doing things. One thing is sure, those services are based on networks of users and networks of providers.
Should we need to change just our tactics or our self-conception?
Does a Format Agnostic, Outlet Agnostic, Content Agnostic audience, still needs a proxy of his personality through a media brand? Check Megan Garber’s excellent article, “Personalized brand: Yet another reason the Economist is trouncing competitors”.
“This is what we tend to forget when we talk about journalism’s evolution: the news brand, in the past – for all its exclusivity, for all its anonymity- was much more than a brand […] it was also an identity. It was a purchased proxy for a personal worldview. A subscription to the Times even a newsstand purchase of the Times, meant something both public and, even more importantly, intimate. The news brand was, in its way, an externalized self, a reflection –often aspirational- of the way its consumers took part in the tumult of human events […] what we share on Twitter, what we comment on Facebook – that is new the proxy for identity.” In other words, we “friend” and “follow” as we read in the past the articles of specific authors, of our favorite publications.
How networks of individual journalists can profit from this tectonic shift? How journalism can profit?
*”Post-industrial Journalism: Adapting to the present”, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, a report by: C.W. Anderson, Emily Bell, Clay Shirky