We need to reinvent ourselves

Two insightful articles from the Washington Post echo concerns I’ve been expressing for years that the news media in this country is in deep trouble. I know I sound like a broken record sometimes, but we need to reinvent ourselves or it will be done for us.

As I noted in my most recent essay [Searching for the Bottom], revenue isn’t the problem. The problem is audience. Solve the problem and the revenue will be there.

Frank Ahrens writes that the venerable newspaper is in trouble and that the industry is struggling to remake itself.

Papers are conducting exhaustive surveys to find out what readers want. They are launching new sections, beefing up Web sites and spinning off free community papers and commuter giveaways in hopes of widening their audience. They even are trying to change the very language of the industry, asking advertisers and investors to dwell less on “circulation” — how many papers are sold — and more on “readership,” or the number of people exposed to a paper’s journalism wherever it appears, in print, on the Web or over the air.
Howard Kurtz looks less at the business of the media and more at what’s going on inside and concludes that, in many ways, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.
In just two years, the fabrications of Jayson Blair and Jack Kelley have led to the ouster of the top editors of the New York Times and USA Today; CBS News melted down in using apparently bogus documents for a story on President Bush; major outlets published mea culpas on their flawed reporting about the White House’s march to war in Iraq; columnist Robert Novak revealed the name of a CIA operative, sparking a probe that could send two other reporters to jail; more journalists were fired for plagiarism; Sinclair Broadcast Group planned to air an anti-John Kerry film close to Election Day before backing off; Fox’s chief political reporter ridiculed Kerry as a metrosexual, and Armstrong Williams and two other columnists acknowledged taking money from the Bush administration. Not to mention the usual array of biases and blunders (remember that New York Post cover on Kerry picking running mate Dick Gephardt?).
Kurtz points to the blogosphere as something new in the history of the press and says bloggers are here to stay. My advice to MSMers is to stop fighting the inevitable and join in the discussion. At its very best, news is a conversation, which is something most mainstream entities have yet to discover.


  1. “At its very best, news is a conversation, which is something most mainstream entities have yet to discover”… well, now you’ve done it! The secret is out…great communication involves dialog (insert mass media ‘duh’ here) :). What happens to the elitist press when they re-discover Communications 101…something about the exchange of ideas & true freedom of the press?

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