Monday, December 03, 2007

It's time to fire my friends

"Listen, the Web is the most exciting part of a modern journalism enterprise for ambitious writers and editors. If they haven't figured it out by now, to hell with them."
Those are the words of Jon Friedman in a column published today on MarketWatch. You can read the rest of his comments, born of a frustrating experience at the American Magazine Conference, by clicking here.

Now it's worth noting for the thousandth time that I am not one of those people who believe print is dead. Rather, I believe that some of print is dead. Some of it isn't dead yet. And some of it will live forever.
I, unlike Friedman, don't expect to read the obituary of the magazine industry any time soon.
However, I do believe -- strongly -- that the careers of a great numbers of great journalists are dead. The refusal to accept the changes in journalism has turned many of the people I know in this industry from assets into liabilities. These people -- many of them friends of mine -- are the whining editors and publishers that Friedman says "still view the Web as more of a curse than a blessing."
And although it is sad, and although it is a loss to the profession, it's time to let these folks go.
Friedman is right: writers and editors that haven't figured out that Web is now the most important part of what we do aren't worth worrying about any longer.

On the other hand, I'm not ready to give up on journalism students ... at least not yet.
As I've said before, the next generation is woefully unprepared to work in today's media. But I have faith that smart teachers can undo the damage inflicted by the journalism dinosaurs that roam the halls of academia.
And even if this entire generation of college students turns out to have been ruined by print-centric, elderly people, there are indications that today's high school students may turn out just fine.

tags: , , , , , , , journalism education


  1. The Web is possibly the greatest thing to happen to journalism.

    It allows people to be informed instantly about events happening all around them in a myriad of different ways. It gives people the power of databases. It is journalism as it was meant to be.

    The Web crushes 24/7 cable news because it allows people to choose which stories they follow 24/7, and it kills newspapers because it is even more in depth. It out does everything.

    The Web, however, is not good for a lot of journalists. The journalists unwilling to learn anything new or to hone a new craft are the ones who will be least served by the Web. Far too many journalists care about themselves and not journalism itself. That's why they think the Web is such a terrible thing for journalism, because they consider journalism as the "me," and not as the "us."

    Journalism is for the people.

    ~Pat Thornton

  2. How does an editor/writer who wasn't trained on the Web catch up to speed on the new age of journalism? One of the problems I see -- at least in the b2b publishing world -- is that employers aren't doing much to train their current employees and prepare them as online journalists. I agree that those reluctant to change need to go, but I think employers need to provide at least some of this training.

  3. If you need training to catch up on the Web, you'll never catch up. I never got training on how to be an online journalist. I just became one.

    I have been using a computer since I was a kid. I had the Internet when I was 10. I was making Web pages within a few years. I'm all over social networks. I eat, breathe and live the Web.

    You can't compete with that. If you don't enjoy the Web on your own time, you never will really get it while you are working. You can't teach someone to love the Web. And loving the Web is what great online journalists have in common. They want to be online journalists.

    Now, of course, employers need to teach specific skills, but they can't teach you the Web. They can only teach you things on the Web. But if you don't use the Web all the time when you aren't at work, you'll never get it.

    I'm going to Poynter next week to learn some more multimedia skills, but I have a base to work with. Make sure you have to base before you start asking for training.

    The problem is far too many journalists just aren't that big of technology fans. Yet, their readers and users are. We need to embrace technology.