I was reminded this morning that this is, despite all appearances, a great time to be in journalism.
I’ve been training on a series of blogging workshops for various of our magazines, doping some close analysis of the blogs they have, setting a strategy for improving them, and then reviewing progress a few months on. (Dave Mascord has been doing the heavy lifting in organising them. I just turn up and pontificate.) The follow-up with the Community Care team this morning suggested that at least some of them are really coming to enjoy the freedom to experiment that the medium gives them.
And there’s so much exploration to be done. We have new tools, from iPhones to Flip cams, and new methods of delivering journalism, from beat blogging to data journalism. There are new audiences to reach out to, and engage with. There are new audiences to serve, and they may be as active in content production as we are.
The boundaries are breaking. The playing field is not what it was. We don’t have all the answers yet. We may not even have most of them. Everybody who comes into journalism has a chance of being one of the people who helps redefine this profession. How can you not be excited by that and call yourself a journalist? This is an inquisitive, status quo-challenging profession. We should enjoy change and the death of received wisdom.
So, sure, business models are being disrupted. And sure, journalist’s working methods are having to change. But change is part of life, and I find the current environment a hell of a lot more inspiring that the stultifying, formulaic received wisdom journalism that defined so much of the first 10 years of my working life.
There is, in short, room to play. Why do children play? To learn about themselves and their environment. That’s where we all are now. We are children stepping into a whole new publishing environment, a whole new information ecosystem, and we have to learn our role in it. And we learn by playing. Or “experimenting” as we grown-ups like to call it, to pretend that it’s something important.
I’m fairly sure I do a post like this every nine months or so. And if you’ve seen this before, I apologise. But I do think it’s worth repeating. I don’t want to see the doom-mongers who bemoan the end of the Old Ways defining the conversation about online journalism. I want to keep the excitement alive.
Photo by Margot Conner, used under a Creative Commons license