A year ago today, I published the most popular blog post I’ve ever written.
It’s a little counter-handwringing list meant to answer some of the frequently asked questions posed by Old Journalism.
So, a year later, here’s a quick take on where things stand:
- It’s not Google’s fault: Score one for newspapers. I haven’t heard anyone complain about Google in a while now, modest proposals excepted. If anything, there’s a healthy increase in asking “What Would Google Do?“
- It’s not Craig’s fault: It’s a mixed bag, here. While there seems to be a lot less moaning and groaning about how craigslist took the air out of the newspaper balloon, reinventing classifieds is still a laborious and slow process, as the news business tends to depend on third-party vendors for a great deal of the vertical business. All of it needs to be more innovative, and it needs to be done yesterday.
- Your major metro newspaper could probably use some staff cuts: Yeah, that’s never a popular option, but this particular list-item is about putting local news out front and dropping everything else that could be covered with wire copy or blogs. Unfortunately, the buyouts-first, layoffs-second method means that your best talent has a tendency to walk out the door instead of the TV columnist.
- It’s time to stop handwringing and start training: Kind of a mixed bag, but there are lots of places to get started learning what’s next. Try Wired Journalists to find a mentor, or NewsU for great tutorials on everything from strategy to writing tips. There’s a ton of resources out there for multimedia, too — feel free to throw a link in the comment thread to point out your favorite venue for learning and teaching.
- You don’t get to charge people for the olds or the news: Most everyone is over this. Paywalls cut readers off from the Long Tail of local news. Don’t put them up.
- Reporters need to do more than write: I think we’ve come a long way since last year, with journalists getting heavily involved in Twitter and Qik and Mogulus and Beatblogging and generally reporting on whatever platform is made available to them. Having a curious mind is the first step to this; if you’re a reporter without curiosity, you might want to think about another line of work. (Agreed?)
- Bloggers aren’t an uneducated lynch mob unconcerned by facts: There’s still a lot of confusion out there. What’s a blog? is still a question in some corners. I try to get journalists to forget about political bloggers by saying blogs are for everything from Nascar to Knitting. If you have someone in your newsroom who leans over every five minutes and says “Dude, check this out” while pointing at a YouTube video or a press release, you have a blogger on your hands.
- You ignore new delivery systems at your own peril: Hmm, does your news site have an iPhone version yet? Man, I wish it did, because I stare at mine all the time, and the sites that look good on it? I bookmark those and spend more time there, hanging out with your brand while I’m waiting in line for the office microwave or sitting at Gate C23 at O’Hare waiting hours and hours for the weather to clear. Oh, and new, faster, cheaper iPhones are expected to drop next week, which should push the adoption curve significantly higher.
- J-Schools need to lead or fade away: My favorite thing going on in j-schools right now is the Knight News Challenge-funded scholarship for programmers at Northwestern.
- The glass is half-full: To be clear, long-term, I think the future of news is bright. Just not on paper. The sooner you understand the difference between “putting your newspaper online” and “online news,” the better.