The Future of Journalism, Solved
A survey out today reveals that newspapers are still doing most of the original reporting that websites (like this one) rely on. But they're still losing money, readers and relevance. The solution seems… simple.
There is a genuine, startling, animosity between newspaper and website editors. The print crew feel that websites steal from them and cheapen journalism. The web crew feel that newspapers publish yesterday's news tomorrow and swan around in cravats and top hats while their industry burns.
All the hand-wringing, including this survey of the sources for a week of news in Baltimore, as reported by the Associated Press, is completely pointless. Because everyone is right.
Web journalism, in general, would benefit enormously from more, and better, original reporting. Our model is iterative — we publish a story as it develops, updating it as more facts come to light. Which is absolutely necessary. The internet is simply a better medium for breaking news, and requires a new kind of journalism. Which does not mean we shouldn't pick up the phone or knock on doors if the story calls for it.
Newspapers, meanwhile, now have no excuse for publishing a bar review a year after that bar opens. They have no excuse for creakily fumbling a news story because new information came to light after deadline. They have no excuse for tired trend pieces on things that came and went across blogs three weeks ago.
So let's just combine the two sides and solve all the tired philosophical arguments. Then Apple will make paper irrelevant with their tablet, cut newspaper costs and get rid of the technical issues over delivery and payment. Journalism will then be fluid, accurate, relevant and ubiquitous and will no longer be the punchline to every recession joke. And we will laugh at silly surveys that pointlessly divided us by medium.
Update: let's also build in what Michael Kinsley says in the Atlantic this month: cut florid descriptions and wordy attributions and admit that journalists have an opinion. (Sorry if this post was too long.)