Journalism then and now

Last night, while watching Citizen Kane, an excellent movie about the life of a fictitious newspaper publisher, my mind started to wonder. How much had the media industry changed since the early 1900s when the film was set? Call this post a Rorschach test of sorts. Here’s how I reacted to some of the choice lines in the movie.

Carter: We’re a morning newspaper, we’re practically closed for 12 hours a day.

Charles Foster Kane: That’s one of the things that going to have to be changed around here. The news goes on for 24 hours a day.

Carter: Mr. Kane, it’s impossible!

It seems the impossible has become possible. The web has extended daily newspaper coverage past the night shift reporter and into a literal 24-hour newsroom. News is no longer held overnight if it happens after deadline. Rather it’s online usually within minutes of its occurence. I’d say that’s pretty remarkable and a big step in journalism.

“I think it would be fun to run a newspaper.”

Probably not so much nowadays. With mass layoffs reorganizations happening in newsrooms across the country, I don’t envy today’s newspaper publishers and media executives. Newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations are all a business and that means some things have to be cut — something I wished I had been told as a budding journalist. Some say journalism is suffering because of corporate cutbacks, I say it is an opportunity for citizen journalists to pick up the slack.

“I don’t know how to run a newspaper Mr. Thatcher, I just try everything I can think of.”

As much as we try to pinpoint what will keep newspapers and other media outlets afloat, nobody really has come up with the one idea what will be the saving grace. All we know is that computers are involved somehow. But if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you’ll know that multimedia isn’t just slideshows and embedded videos. There is such a range of types of journalism to choose from that we must try everything and see what sticks.

“We have no secrets from our readers.”

Yeah I think we do. Even with internal and external blogs and newsroom openness, most readers/viewers have no idea how journalism happens. I’d think that they’d be surprised how much communication takes place over the phone or through email rather than face to face. And how most of us are taking on this web thing begrudgingly or dutifully rather than optimistically (okay maybe they do know that). Still with more and more blogs covering the media industry, nothing stays secret for long.

“Even newspaper men have to sleep some time.”

I think the web and blogs stole our sleep. There are more avenues than ever for content to be published or broadcast which means losing sleep over what the next blog item will be about or what the next podcast will be. The upside is consumers are getting more bang for their buck out of journalists. The down side is we lose a little of our extra beauty rest.