Journalism facing tough times panel says

30 04 2010

The FutureWeb Future of Media panel.

Journalism is in the most tumultuous time in history according to the panelists from the FutureWeb session on the future of the media.

The panel was led by ibiblio creator Paul Jones and included Penny Muse Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at University of North Carolina, Michael Clemente, senior VP of news for FOX News, Sam Matheny, general manager of News Over Wireless at CBC New Media Group,  Dan Conover and Doc Searls, Berkman Center Fellow at Harvard.

One of the hot topics discussed by the panel was the role the mobile phones and the mobile Web play in how consumers receive and disseminate information.

“Mobile will be for the next five to ten years the place where the majority of the innovation is coming from,” Maheny said.

One of the biggest examples of this idea is the iPhone, he said.

“People buy the iPhone with the phone being the afterthought.”

He also noted this stems from the need to obtain information on a rapid pace.

“People will always want access to info faster and easier than they can get it,” he said.

What this is doing to journalism, is lessening it, Clemente said.

“There’s more information out there than ever, ever been before but there’s less journalism,” he said. Clemente attributed this to a rush for journalists to be the first to get their story out and use the Internet as the platform to do so.

Print newspapers are part of the dwindling aspect of journalism as well, the panelists agreed.

Abernathy said this problem stems from the revenue side and the attempt at paywalls and their affects. In addition, there is a conflict with newspapers trying to preserve the traditional print model, she said.

Education for student journalists is another obstacle an audience member noted.

According to moderator Paul Jones, student journalists are now being required to learn and understand concepts such as data mining, data visualization, citizen journalism and storytelling.

“The key challenge will be for (student) journalists to provide the time to do that work,” Matheny said in reference to the programs such as Flash that take a more extensive amount of time to learn.

In terms of citizen journalism, Abernathy said it won’t save journalism.

Searls said there is not a rift between bloggers and journalism. “I think bloggers are journalists,” he said.

Conover said the major question is what is good.

“Today I don’t know what’s good anymore,” he said. “I don’t know if we’re making the world better, sometimes I think we’re making society sicker…We have people who are horrendously misinformed.”

Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:

FutureWeb YouTube channel:

Flickr photos:



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