Journalists: Change starts with you

This morning I tweeted that I rarely read newspapers and instead use the internet as my source for news. This spawned outcries from journalists who lamented that the newspaper is where quality journalism resides and to deny that is ignorance. What many of the commenters failed to realize is the internet is itself made up of online newspapers and broadcast organizations — many of whose award-winning work is available online — in addition to other news sources such as blogs and online-only sites like the Huffington Post.

Many seasoned journalists are tied to a physical newspaper rather than a news organization for which the medium is becoming less and less important. There are people all over the world who will read a story online, but never read the actual newspaper. We as journalists are blind to the fact that news no longer exists in a bubble: we may cover particular communities, but we now have a global community who are equally invested in the stories we produce and who we must answer to.

Hitching onto the new wave of journalism doesn’t mean understanding all the technology that comes along with it, but it certainly does require us to be familiar with and embrace new innovations as part of our survival, not as a threat.

Journalism is dead was created as a nod to the doomsday predictions about the eventual collapse of journalism, but the truth is the industry will thrive no matter its shape or form. Journalism existed before the newspapers, even in its earlier existence as hieroglyphics in Egypt or the cave drawings by early man. Even Moses, who had just a stone tablet from which to proclaim the news, embodied the spirit of journalism. Surely someone was upset when the newfangled newspapers came along and changed the notion of how news was spread.

I’m not saying I have an answer to journalism’s present predicament and anyone who says they do are either disillusioned or in denial. But to hold on to a dead tree medium when the world is moving forward is like a baby clinging to its pacifier. Sure you could go on forever with the same pacifier, but sooner or later everyone must be weaned off of old habits and be ushered into a new era and join the rest of the adult world.

Journalism is here to stay and journalists we must stay with it, through good times and bad. I encourage you to embrace new forms of journalism and new technologies because it is, whether we like it or not, the unavoidable future.