Friday, January 21, 2005

Explode the newsroom

Great post from Tim Porter on First Draft about the failure of current newsroom structures to deal adequately with changing media technologies, reader expectations, and the needs of reporting staff for clear direction and resources so they can "go out and commit some journalism".

Porter writes: "It is time to explode the newsroom and remake it in ways that bring flexibility, creativity, awareness of audience and collaboration to the forefront."

He offers six suggestions as starting points for a newsroom revolution, and concludes:

"There are principles of journalism that should remain inviolate, but there are no permanent rules about how to put those principles into practice. Nowhere is it written that the current structure of newspapers is the only way to do journalism. In fact, we've arrived where we are more by happenstance than by purpose, often by mimicking a singular innovation that moved the industry in a new direction. The introduction into newspapers of comics, of photography, of color, of editorial pages, even of the notion of objectivity, each broke a rule of its day and eventually enticed others to follow.

The future of newspapers belongs to those bold enough, and skilled enough, to invent their own rules. Who among the traditional newsrooms is going to lead us into tomorrow by being the rule-breaker of today?"

Jeff Jarvis makes some similar observations:
"Thanks to the internet - and the consumer control and choice it enables - the mass market is dying ... How do we serve a mass of niches instead of the mass audience? How do we afford to do that? How do we assure we do not ghettoize and marginalize those publics?"

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