In a short commentary in AdBusters Dan Rather, former anchor of CBS Evening News and broadcast journalism icon, had some terse words for American journalism and the “international conglomerates” that own it:
I believe the American people want to stand up to political pressure and say, “Report the news the way we want you to report it and if you don’t, you will be made to pay a price.” It has led to a situation where the red beating heart of a representative democracy, a free press, is run by large multinational conglomerates. They work in myriad ways, particularly in secrecy, and their influence is far too great in newsrooms.
Be that as it may, I think Dan is a bit bitter.
Dean Nicholas Lemann, Columbia School of Journalism
Our job was to improve on the old model. Your job is to create a new model. You shouldn’t be daunted by this: newspapers in particular, and news in general, have been changing in non-incremental ways for three centuries. Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette and Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World (the profits from which endowed this school) had almost nothing in common except that they were printed on cheap paper and distributed in cities, and neither had much in common with a big-city newspaper today. On your watch, newspapers will be primarily digital, but the primary task for you is not to switch delivery media, it’s to invent a new social compact with a community around the gathering and presentation of information.
Read full transcript.
From Ryan Sholin’s post on ’10 obvious things about the future of newspapers you need to get through your head’:
J-schools can either play a critical role in training the next generation of journalists, or they can fade into irrelevancy. Teach multimedia, interactivity and data, or watch your students become frustrated and puzzled as they try to get jobs with five clips and a smile.
That’s what I’ve been trying to iterate to so many of my fellow students (well, former students, I take the big walk on Friday). These same students laugh and smirk at my “blogging” yet don’t understand why their applications end up in the slush pile when all they have is “…clips and a smile.”
They’ll either learn or be left behind and without even Kirk Cameron to keep them company.
*I know his post is old, but it is still highly relevant and deserves a QOTD nod.
In response to the Pope Benedict XVI’s first visit the United States:
If Ratzinger is not asked at every stop he makes, and in level yet firm tones, why he and the Vatican continue to shelter Cardinal Law, our profession will have shamed and disgraced itself. We already know that the Pope is a Roman Catholic. What we need to hear is his reason for giving sinecure and asylum to the man who organized and excused the rape and torture of tens of thousands of American children. And then, when he has given his first answer, we need to hear how he answers all the supplementary questions.
This is from the Washington Post’s ongoing “interactive” feature about the state Catholicism, On Faith. Personally, I think they should have gone with a jazzier title, ‘Catholicism WOW!’ (tip: Dogma), or perhaps something more politically oriented, ‘Pope Watch 2008′.
The reason I put the word interactive in quotes is because, though touted as such, there isn’t much interaction beyond a normal story gallery. Right now it is mostly just print stories dressed up with graphics and a powder blue color scheme and a single video. I assume they are going to add more during the Pope’s visit, but they should have started it off with a bang. Perhaps an audio slideshow of Benedict’s history or even of Catholicism.
The Washington Post has the resources to do a lot more (and win Pulitzer’s). We’ll have to see how they play this out.
Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine: “…the Pulitzer Prize is bad for journalism, turning the profession into a circle-jerk of mutual self-love.”
Gawker’s Nick Denton agrees, and he cleverly uses a screen grab from season five of David Simon’s ‘The Wire.’ That season’s focus on the fictional version of the Baltimore Sun and its Pulitzer-chasing ways exemplified what Jarvis is saying. If you haven’t seen ‘The Wire’ yet, A) I’m not your friend, and B) You still have time, do and buy it, download it or steal it from a friend. All five seasons are worth your time, but I digress.
I have to say, even being relatively green in the business still, that I have to agree with both Denton’s and Jarvis’ sentiment about Pulitzers.
Pulitzer Prizes should be an ancillary benefit to good journalism, not the endgame. Journalists, online and print, radio and TV, should not approach a story or a package with the twinkle of the prize in their eyes. It should be approached with the desire to tell a good story and do good journalism. If that desire is genuine, it will shine through and the prize(s) will come in.
Yeah, my idealism has yet to be washed away or beaten into submission by the nastiness that can exist in this business.
Don’t get me wrong however, if something I did or was part of ever won a Pulitzer Prize I would accept it with nothing but gratitude and shit-eating grin.
The bleakest thing about [HBO's] The Wire is that it's ending after the current season. Desperate Housewives, meanwhile, is set to go on until 2011. Now that's a depressing thought.
- Brian Cook
‘The Wire’ — Why Criticize One of the Best Crime Shows in TV History?
Truer words have never been spoken. If you haven’t seen The Wire, do so as soon as possible.
In response to the accusation that he “snubbed” Hillary last night at the SOTU, Obama said:
“I was turning away because Claire asked me a question as Sen. Kennedy was reaching for her. Sen. Clinton and I have had very cordial relations off the floor and on the floor.“