career talk / hope for the future

Fight the war, don't sweat the battle

It’s time to stop worrying about the medium and focus on the idea.

As a recent graduate of a mostly print-oriented journalism program who is more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it and sitting in the crowd than standing in front of it, some find it odd that I just couldn’t care less about the future of newspapers.

I’m not crying “print is dead.” I’m saying the decline of newspapers is a skirmish; there’s a bigger war to fight. I’m saying that engaging in good journalism is more important than the medium you contribute to.

Rather than trying to save newspapers or broadcast news, can we focus on saving journalism?

Not a day goes by that I don’t hear complaints – from the audience, not the peanut gallery – about liberal media, sensationalism, or cover-ups.

My neighbor declares daily that news should be positive rather than negative. OK, a man killed his neighbors – but the police caught him.

My best friend’s mom says there’s only one good news show on TV – The Newshour with Jim Lehrer. Even though fewer stories are presented, the depth of the stories is much greater than the traditional “news at 5.”

Our readers, watchers and listeners aren’t sheep. They can and do think for themselves. They know what they want, and they’ll get it – somewhere.

So we need to pick up the pace.

Video won’t save journalism. Blogging won’t save journalism. Podcasts won’t save journalism. Databases won’t save journalism.

These are all parts of doing journalism.

Journalism is the discipline of gathering, contextualizing and presenting facts which have “impact, timeliness, prominence, proximity, conflict or weirdness” within a community.

Think of a community as any group of people who identify in some way with one another.

Now serve them, dammit!