Nicholas Lemann At The Times Literary Supplement: ‘Does Journalism Have A Future?’

Full piece here (link may not last).

The sky is falling!

Our author reviews a new book by George Brock entitled ‘Out Of Print.

Lemann finishes with:

‘The internet might end up returning journalism to a faster, more technologically sophisticated version of what it was before the advent of the commercial newspaper business’

Perhaps it ‘s useful to think of journalists as citizens who volunteer at local elections: Private citizens serving a public function.

Someone’s got to open up the church or rec center, set up the machines, tally-up the votes and make it official. Someone may even have to keep an eye on the supporters outside angling for any last vote they can, and make sure election laws are followed. Such volunteers would be doing something both civic and necessary, a little thankless, even. Unlike journalists, they would only be doing it a few days out of the year.

Now, if they were to become professionals, like journalists, they would not be on the public dime, but perhaps words like ‘democracy,’ ‘common purpose’ and ‘public good’ would be heard often as they hit the streets, hounded, rolodexed, and muckraked their way about town. Newspaper ad revenue might be enough to pay their salaries and have say, one covering the courts and police reports, another local politics and press conferences, another obits and subscriptions etc.  A columnist might be born.

This actual coverage, often local and community-based, is what is being lamented as lost in the age of internet aggregators and new technology.  No one’s hitting the beat.

Amidst such change, many journalists are wondering how noble and necessary their profession is since very few people are willing to pay them for it.

Lemann waxes nostalgic:

‘To work in a traditional city newsroom is to witness every day what is still quite an impressive industrial process. Information flows in from an enormous variety of sources, gets sorted, sifted, processed and translated into a clear, accessible form, moves onto gigantic machines for an instantaneous mass production process, and then gets physically distributed to hundreds of thousands of locations’

Technology won’t replace human experience and judgment, but if an app can do much of the above more easily and cheaply, why not let it?

At the very least, shouldn’t a professional journalistic class be expected to adjust to this new technology and provide value to readers day-in and day-out?

Privately or publicly funded, who among us can possibly hope to speak for all of the public?

Classic Yellow Journalism by malik2moon

Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon

Related On This SiteFrom io9 Via An Emailer: ‘Viral journalism And The Valley Of Ambiguity’

From The Nieman Lab:-An Oral History Of The Epic Collision Between Journalism & Digital Technology, From 1980 To The Present.

A Few Thoughts On NPR And Current Liberal Establishment Thinking Under Obama

Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Could Amazon and Jeff Bezos Make the Washington Post Profitable?’…‘Sorry, Jeff Bezos, the News Bundle Isn’t Coming Back

Michael Kinsley At The New Republic Via Althouse: ‘A Q & A With Jill Abramson’

From Slate: “Newsweek Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up”

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

You could do like Matt Drudge, but the odds are stacked against you.