Back in June I wrote a post focused on the role of institutions in the future (and history) of journalism. It was in part a response to the FCC Information Needs of Communities report that came out this spring.
When I read Charlie Beckett’s recent keynote speech to the NewsRewired Conference, I felt as though it was a useful meditation on some of the issues I had been mulling over.
Here’s an excerpt:
“If I have changed my mind on anything over the last five years it is probably this. I probably over-estimated the way that a kind of natural process or market force would create new institutions to support good journalism in the networked era – the kind of civic, ethical, quality, independent journalism that I hold dear. I don’t mean we have to preserve current organisations like newspaper groups. I think they have a lot of value left but if they are to survive then they really have to be much more radically overhauled in terms of management, staff and enterprise.
I hope to see a blossoming of new structures – including a much more vibrant freelance or indie culture – but the danger is that the major media organisations will cream off the popular market and won’t invest in the rest – as they used to do – leaving niches such as the Economist, or public bodies such as the BBC to dominate in glorious isolation.
Yes, we are moving from fortress to networks, but journalism needs spaces, brands, perhaps institutions – that allow it to flourish – that protect and invest in good journalists.”
One of the things I appreciate about Beckett is that he understands that these changes and challenges are not just business or market problems. At the end of this post, he writes, “There is also a policy struggle ahead. We have to fight a battle with corporate interests and governments for the open net – for editorial diversity – for free expression – for digital literacy.”
And these are fights we need journalists to be a part of.