Journalism: Not an end but a process

by Mathew on April 14, 2008 · 6 comments

Jeff Jarvis has an interesting post up about the evolution of media online, and he must have taken some time with it because it has graphics and everything — just kidding, Jeff :-) But seriously, Jeff’s general point I think is well-taken: that the way journalism occurs has changed, and is continuing to change. Like most other forms of content, instead of a one-way, production-line approach in which news is manufactured (metaphorically speaking) by mainstream media entities and then distributed to news consumers, the news — and I’m using that term broadly — occurs and is reported, then more details emerge, other sources join in, the story advances, and so on. In other words, a process.

This is not really new, in the sense that Jeff and others (including yours truly) have been saying it for some time now. But it bears repeating, if only because some media entities are only now coming to realize just how much their business is changing. As a friend of mine who used to work at the Washington Post’s website has said often, there is a whole generation of editors who need to realize that we are moving from the “report, write, edit, publish” model to something more like a “report, write, edit, publish, edit, write, report, publish” model. It never stops.

Let’s be clear about something: I’m not saying that journalists — whatever their background, whether it’s mainstream media or blogging — should stop caring whether something is right, or should rush to publish something because someone else will fix their mistakes. And it’s true that expensive investigative reporting is almost always going to be the province of the established media. This isn’t some kind of blogosphere triumphalism thing I’m pushing here. But I think only an idiot would argue that journalism hasn’t changed, or that the industry can continue to do things the way it has done for centuries. It has, and it can’t.

There’s more in Jeff’s post than I have dealt with here, so I encourage you to go and read the whole thing. And if you just can’t get enough of people writing about the future of newspapers and the media online, Britannica has an ongoing debate about whether newspapers are doomed.

  • http://www.cloudid.com david usher

    hey mathew
    its similar in music, the cycle is speeding up and the gatekeepers gone. we are left , for better or worse, to engage our own communities and keep the communications flowing fast and furious.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    That's a great way of putting it, David.

  • RayR

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. Your new model — “report, write, edit, publish, edit, write, report, publish” — is the way newsgathering and reporting have worked in my lifetime (57 years). It just hasn't looked like a continuum. For the newspaper world, I would structure your phrase as: “report, write, edit, publish, followup report, write second-day story, edit, publish, followup report, write weekend story, edit, publish” until the story runs out of steam.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    That”s a good point, Ray. I guess we're back to the days of morning,
    afternoon and evening editions :-)

  • RayR

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. Your new model — “report, write, edit, publish, edit, write, report, publish” — is the way newsgathering and reporting have worked in my lifetime (57 years). It just hasn't looked like a continuum. For the newspaper world, I would structure your phrase as: “report, write, edit, publish, followup report, write second-day story, edit, publish, followup report, write weekend story, edit, publish” until the story runs out of steam.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    That”s a good point, Ray. I guess we're back to the days of morning,
    afternoon and evening editions :-)

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