Future of Journalism

I’m heading to Aspen Sunday to take part in a Knight Foundation-sponsored gathering on the future of journalism. It’ll be 50 or so attendees, all of whom are very accomplished and have an incredible amount to add to the conversation. I don’t know a ton about journalism, so am mostly going to try to listen and understand, but also I think that there are some learnings from Mozilla that may be relevant. So it should be fun; I’ll try to blog about it mid-week next week.

In the meantime, anyone have thoughts about what’s interesting in journalism? What you’re worried about? What you’re excited about?


  1. My biggest issue/worry is how much sensationalism has become a part of mainstream media (CNN has been in a downward spiral for years).

    With the rise of citizen journalism and user-contributed/edited/upvoted articles, the trend only seems to be getting worse.

  2. I have found that many news media organizations have been having trouble figuring out how to scale and balance across multiple channels. Declining revenue streams combined with ever broadening information inputs as well as publication channels has meant that – perhaps more than many other industries – journalists have been trying to do to much more (keep track of the flow of information in order to stay on top of emerging news and not get “scooped”, publish out information quickly to multiple channels) with less (fewer resources, less time to think and react)

    This has resulted in many news media simply becoming “rebroadcasters” of packaged information without the checks and balances that initially lent integrity to the fifth estate. Press releases and soundbites are passed off as news, and then endlessly analyzed without substance because deep research and analysis takes time, money and people that the news media simply doesn’t have. Further, in a perverse race to be the first to talk about a story, the news media has become an echo chamber, trying to find new angles on a story that are quickest but not necessarily the most informative.

    I think the greatest threat to journalism is the risk of them moving lower and lower down the commodity chain. It makes their services less valuable and more easily displaced (why check nyt.com/technology when gizmodo.com is updated more frequently?) while also diluting the quality of informed analysis there is on the huge streams of information coming at today’s public.

  3. Hi John,

    Sounds like a neat opportunity to hear what’s next in journalism. I’m not a journalist either and still have a lot to learn about the industry. But I’m worried about the state of online news, specifically how to easily separate news and opinion. We’ve entered what we think is an “Era of Opinion” where news sources increasingly bring a strong perspective to the news they’re reporting on in an effort differentiate themselves in a very crowded market. We’ve written about this on our blog http://blog.fairspin.org and are currently experimenting with a crowd-sourced way to reveal the political perspective of articles, authors and sources at http://fairspin.org. More tools like this will need to emerge over the next few years to help us make sense of news online. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the Aspen Conference.

    -Dave Baggereor (and Stephen Hood)

  4. With regards to Journalism and Newspapers going under, I think I’ve repeatedly been hearing two ideas:

    Some would advocate it is a technology problem. (That we need micro-payments to pay for individual articles, akin to a browser-based iTunes store for news.) And others would argue the industry has failed to provide a product of value in an increasingly disposable, broad, and fast-paced environment.

    Please do blog during the conference. I am curious to see what other opinions, problems, or solutions emerge.

  5. nicholas reville

    this vanity fair article on politico is intriguing and disconcerting, but has some essential ideas for where things are headed: http://bit.ly/qc34W

  6. There was a great short documentary about the demise of the Rocky Mountain news. The content wasn’t anything we didn’t already know about the shifting landscape of media, and the serious financial trouble that most papers are in, but it gave the overall narrative a really strong emotional context. At one point someone describes that when the news desk is informed that the paper is shutting down, the reporters instinctively all took out their notepads and started writing, which is just so unbelievably dark.

    Unfortunately the video seems to be down on Vimeo due to a compression issue, but if it comes back up here is the link: http://www.vimeo.com/3390739

    As expected the video contained a lot of arguments against citizen journalism on the Web, mostly formed around the idea that random bloggers will never be indoctrinated into the ethos of proper fact checking and ethics taught in journalism school. And the overall fear was that we are now headed toward a world free of fact and truth.

    Personally I think we got there before the Web and rather at the cable news era, where every claim, regardless of how ridiculous it is, is given a representative for debate. On talking head debates in favor of the sky being blue, the other talking head opposed. But no one is ever able to say “actually, the sky is blue” and then move the discussion forward.