For three reasons, I am much more optimistic about the future of journalism — and even newspaper companies — than I was a couple of years ago.
1. Newspapers have gotten over their fear of/resistance to the web and are, by and large, going where only a few braves souls were half-a-decade ago. There’s a sense of urgency now, where the sense a couple of years back was largely confusion and bewilderment.
2. The new forms of storytelling have, at most newspapers, supplemented not supplanted older forms. We have an incredibly rich mixture of story forms being pushed to their limits by any number of talented journalists.
3. The young folk.
Of the three, it’s the latter that has me most enthused. There are any number of smart, aggressive folk out there who are not only thinking long and hard about journalism, but who are doing something about it.
I want to highlight recent posts from three of those young folk.
First up is Ryan Sholin. How I have used the print edition, historically speaking, is both a somewhat nostalgic look back at ink-on-paper and a few observations on how that relates (and doesn’t) to online. While Ryan’s post is a great thing in itself, it has also kicked off some interesting conversation and musings elsewhere. (See John Duncan and Mindy McAdams.)
Second, Zac Echola’s On conversations everywhere. This post, like so much of what he writes, brings some commonsense to the intersection of traditional and online media and how one changes the other.
Third is Angela Grant, not for something she’s written, but for something she has done: invited Stewart Pittman (aka Lenslinger) into the fold at New Videographer. As far as I know, he’s the first TV shooter to become a regular part of a site devoted to the rapidly evolving world of newspaper video storytelling. In his first post, Stewart writes this:
For some time now I’ve surfed this site, often to find my own brand of visual journalism dismissed as so much circus noise. I get it. TV News is SO gauche; a crass bastardization of the Edward R. Murrow dream slathered in glowing logos and happy patter. Guilty. As. Charged.
But look beyond the triple-lit sets, plastic-wrapped talent and endless promos to the visceral images captured daily by street-level TV shooter. There you’ll find the fundamentals of visual storytelling, whether you’re looking to fill up your plasma fattie or simply debut it in on YouTube.
He’ll be a great addition to an already vibrant and helpful website.
All three of these folk — and there are many others I could add to the list — share a passion for journalism, strong ideas about where it is and may be going, a willingness to put it out there and an incredible work ethic. They are writing regularly, tweeting away like made and working hard in journalism.
I hope no one takes this post as in any way denigrating the work that has been done, and is still being done, by older generations of working journalists and educators (many of them, literally, greybeards). We’re all in this together, etc.
But thanks to a new generation of savvy and involved journalists who are not only doing the work, but, in many ways, leading the discussion, I’m really starting to feel that journalism is in good hands.