Monday, January 8, 2007

Attempt at a manifesto

Part two

In my last post, I sketched the changing media landscape. Allow me to summarize.

1.) More information is available now than ever before. This is a good thing for consumers of information.

2.) This abundant and free information poses a problem for the traditional news media. This has led to upheaval.

3.) Desk editors are uniquely positioned in newsrooms to deal with this new reality. We edit a wide array of stories, summarize them in pithy ways and concern ourselves with reader response.

What does this all mean?

We, as editors, can take a leading role in leading our newspapers into the future. We spend most of our workdays online anyway. We check facts. We see what other news sources do. We browse websites.

So we shouldn't be afraid of these changes. We should embrace them and learn about them. Write a blog. Record a podcast. Socially network. Make these things work for you. Make these things work for you newspaper.

Ultimately, we must accept change in our jobs. I wrote about this in the last post as well. Most of us are no longer solely copy editors -- we're editors, with the responsibility the title implies. And we will take on more roles as newsrooms acclimate to the web.

We should welcome these roles. And we should ask for more.

Make no mistake: The future of the news media is not about offering less. It's about doing more and doing it better. Abundant folks online offer free commentary and news collection. We have to coexist with them -- and we won't do it by shutting ourselves off in the windowless rooms of the past. We have to stay open and curious. We shouldn't be afraid to try. We shouldn't be afraid to fail.

Jobs will go, yes. But jobs will also be created. Positions in a new media universe will exist. And if newspapers can't employ all the people they used to, we shouldn't take that as a signal of the world's end. We should simply keep doing what we do, whenever and wherever and however we can. Reporting. Editing. Analyzing. Afflicting the comfortable and all that jazz.

Consumers want their news. We know how to give it to them. Let's do it.