Goodbye Gutenberg

Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism has released its Winter Report with the provocative title “Goodbye Gutenberg.” It’s an in-depth analysis of the end of the newspaper era of journalism, and it contains some really good stuff.

From Jon Palfreman’s section, “Caught in the Web,” is a look at how IQ scores of young people are rising in the area of spatial reasoning, and this, he argues, has serious ramifications for the future of journalism.

…the love fest between the MySpace generation and the Web may signal a profound moment in human culture. With the Web, we could be witnessing the most important development in expressive media since the advent of writing. One exciting if disruptive possibility is that under the influence of the young, the Internet will usher in a new era of interactive, audiovisual literacy. Though written words will remain critical to human communication, it’s likely they will no longer dominate in the exchange of news and information.

Craig Newmark of Craigslist fame adds a piece about citizen journalism from his perspective as the founder of a web empire built on trust.

…a strength of good citizen journalism is when the correspondent has the courage to speak truthfully even in the face of powerful opposition. In some respects, these 21st century Web correspondents (like some of the best journalists) are following in the footsteps of Martin Luther, John Locke, and Thomas Paine, whose words led to large scale, effective change.

From where I sit, the highest priority right now seems to be finding ways to encourage the convergence of what’s now being done by journalists with what can be done when citizens add their voices to the mix. And this includes journalism’s essential role of being a watchdog on government and other important social and economic institutions.

Rebecca MacKinnon and Ethan Zuckerman share their Global Voices Manifesto, and Judy Muller’s chilling “Plagiarism Goes by a Different Name on the Web looks at a case from her own experience in which the word “repurposing” actually means “plagiarism.”

There is some excellent material here, all built around the theme of a farewell to the creator of the printing press.

Newsrooms are being hollowed out, and editors who resist such cutbacks are losing their jobs. Digital video cameras and tape recorders replace reporters’ notebooks as newspapers—and other news organizations—train staff in multimedia storytelling. In this issue, words about journalists’ experiences in the digital era transport our vision forward, while our eye takes us on a visual voyage back to a time when newspapers wove communities together.

R.I.P. Gutenberg

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