Insider offers encouraging ideas for a battered, bruised news industry

It’s been an especially tough year for the news industry, which is suffering mass layoffs, sales and bankruptcy filings by some of the biggest companies in print and broadcast journalism.

But all is not lost says Reuter’s Chris Cramer at the Global Forum for Media Development. Andrew Lam writes the following from rough notes taken at the discussion and posted at the New America Media blog:

The most disturbing and the most promising are connected. If you live in the states and travel to Europe, which I do — you would think the bottom is dropping out of the old business, that thousands journalists are losing jobs every week, that the business model is broken, that the private and public paradigm doesn’t exist anymore, and that the public think [the news media] is irrelevant. That’s the disturbing part.

Well, I actually don’t think it’s true.

I think it’s an extraordinary time to re-invent the business. Some journalists are incredibly arrogant to the way they dispense their wisdom and knowledge to viewers. That is, when they feel like it. Some are blind to what’s going on and some are in complete denial. The traditional media in most part of the world is a thing of the past. There are a billion devices to record the world.

For our compatriots at the Rocky Mountain News and other Colorado media outlets going through seismic changes in their own newsrooms, Cramer points to the nub of the issue for moving forward:

Here’s my prediction…I think every key event going forward will be covered by members of public, by ordinary people… and not by traditional journalists on the scene.

Without reaching out, without putting their arms around [new reality] and accept people with their capacity to be news gatherers there will be many news businesses that are going to fail.

People out there have a greater capacity the initial drafts of history that have always been the prerogative of journalists.

There’s something to be said about connecting the dots … Media driven not by content but CONTEXT. In a world of content, context is King. The role of news organizations, of journalists, are to tell people why they should care about anything. This is a very important journalistic point.

And for those of you still clinging to the “fair and balanced” mindset, hold onto your hats:

Editorial integrity… does not mean you can’t be passionate. It does not mean you needn’t produce great journalism. It does mean nobody gets a free ride. It does not mean you are not to bring in your biases but that you need to tell people that you are opinionated. You need to label it. Much of the media in US … suggests that it’s fair but its’ absolutely not balance. Many news organizations pretend to be to be fair, full of equality, etc but they are anything but that..

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Wendy Norris

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