Will Journalists Adapt?

This is one of my favorite issues to track, and I quote a certain 2006 Slate article sometimes *way* too frequently. I’m over it, because I think it’s a valid statement.

If newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters don’t produce spectacular news coverage no blogger can match, they have no right to survive.

Well, here’s another really important add to the list of things I will quote excessively. It comes with gratitude to my author-of-the-moment, Clay Shirky, and a post to his blog over the weekend.

In the post, Shirky includes the commencement address by the dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Nicholas Lemann. His charge to the graduates is along the lines of what was written in Slate three-plus-years ago:

This is not a time for journalists to say, “We have decided that the traditional news story is the best basic form of news delivery, so we’re doggedly sticking with it.” This is, instead, and more interestingly, a time for experimentation, which also means it’s a time for listening.

Or, the even more inspiring:

So this is your charge. You will not only have to reinvent journalism, you will also have to reinvent the conversation about journalism, making it less internal to the profession, and more interactive with the rest of society. That’s an enormous job; I wonder whether any generation of journalists has had a more momentous mission than yours. But, to me, and I hope to you too, it sounds like fun. Good luck. We’ll miss you.

My two cents: This isn’t about the future of just journalism. This is about the *present* of communications. The definitions of media and journalism are running the wrong direction from “news reporter.”

Whether it’s thinking about this as “We-dia,” or recognizing that everyone will be contributing to the news of the day in their own circles, it’s important to think about how all of us adapt our communications on what seems to be a near-weekly basis. The landscape is changing so quickly that it’s everyone’s mission to join in Lemann’s students. He talks about a “less internal” profession of journalism – and it couldn’t be more right.


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