Eight (or Nine) Values for the Future of News

I just returned from the Future of News conference in St. Paul, Minn. Although the conference inspired Richard Gingras to cheekily tweet, “The future of news is a future of conferences about the future of news,” there were some interesting threads worth noting.

One presenter who stood out to me was Tom Rosenstiel, from the Pew Center for Excellence in Journalism, who proposed eight values he believed were core to the future of news. Some, he noted, were long-held values of legacy media organizations that we should carry over to new models. Others were values rooted in the changing media system and people’s responses to it. Continue reading


Journalists as Cartographers

Ground Truthing: The use of a ground survey to confirm findings of aerial image or to calibrate quantitative aerial observations; validation and verification techniques used on the ground to support maps; walking the ground to see for oneself if what has been told is true; near-surface discoveries. ~From Terry Tempest Williams, Orion Magazine, MayJue 2003

The convergence of print, video, and audio online is just one function of a larger shift in the technology of our daily lives from analog to digital. Just glancing around my house there are a range of ways that digital technology has replaced analog: my watch, my stereo, my thermostat, my phone, my camera, etc… These changes are more than the simple march of progress. They represent a fundamental shift in our epistemology. Yochi Benkler has written that “Information, knowledge, and culture are central to human freedom and human development. How they are produced and exchanged in our society critically affects the way we see the state of the world as it is and might be; who decides these questions; and how we, as societies and polities, come to understand what can and ought to be done.” Changes in technology necessitate changes in how we respond to the world around us.

Whether you blame or celebrate the role of the Internet in journalism, it is impossible to deny how the web has changed – and is changing – the role of the journalist. News and information – and they way we consume it – has undergone a radical shift in just the last twenty years. We went from watching the evening newscast, to 24 hour cable news, to always-on internet news, to always-on and always-accessible mobile news on cell phones. With these shifts have come changes in pace and delivery, as well as the content and character of the news. Continue reading

Is the Future of Journalism a Drought or a Flood?

Journalism students may be short on jobs, but they certainly aren’t lacking reading material about their industry. In the last twelve months, there have been a number of landmark essays on journalism written by academics and journalists. In addition, at least six major textbook-sized reports on the future of American media have been released, as well as innumerable lectures, conferences and roundtables on the topic.

The list of materials produced this year could easily make up a respectable “open-source” syllabus for the aspiring journalism innovator. But until a week or two ago, this makeshift seminar wouldn’t have been complete. Just when I thought little else could be written about the future of news, a coalition of independent media outlets – The Media Consortium – has released a remarkable new report that deserves a slot in your reading list. Continue reading

Editors Make the Case for Smart Journalism Policies

The editors of the Columbia Journalism Review published an important editorial this week outlining why they feel public policy must be a central part of the discussion about the future of news in America.

They wrote: “The idea that a purely commercial media alone can continue to deliver the journalism we need is becoming difficult to swallow. If we don’t get beyond the rational but outdated fear of government help for accountability journalism—if we just let the market sort it out—this vital public good will continue to decline.” Continue reading