The NPR program On Point spent an hour this morning trying to decide: "Can Bloggers Save Journalism?" Most of it was fairly on point (heh) but it quickly became apparent that a more apt name for the show would have been "No One Knows Shit About The Future Of Journalism."
Andrew Sullivan editor at the Atlantic, popular blogger of The Daily Dish, and writer of pro-blogging articles like "Why I Blog" acted as the voice of optimism, which makes sense when you realize that his blog gets more hits than the Christian Science Monitor. Dean of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism Nicholas Lemann (author of the seminal anti-citizen journalist piece "Amateur Hour"), served as party-pooper and realist. They also threw in Tina Brown journalism's kid-genius of the '70s who recently started The Daily Beast to add a few moderating tidbits. In the end, though no one could come up with an answer to what journalism is going to look like in 20 years. Or five, for that matter.
The death of traditional journalism has been on the minds of reporters for years now, brought about by a synergy of falling ad revenue and the inevitable migration of readers to the great, democratizing power of the internet. Likely, it's a little too inside baseball for many of our readers, at least until the news that CL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection a month ago. Even then, the average Joe the Reader probably can't summon up much concern, since he can find News of the Weird and local events listings on a number of other sites.
For us journalists, editors and media moguls it's about all we can think about. I started writing for CL a little over five years ago as little more than a hobby that happened to bring in extra dough and some free meals. Last year, I made journalism my sole source of income. Great timing.
Now, CL and every traditional media outlet in the nation, from alt-weeklies to national dailies to broadcast news is bumbling along the muddled and obscured path to the future of journalism. Don't think that we're just not adapting quickly or are innovative enough to make the switch, 'cause we're smart, and trying to forge ahead. Truth is, the entire industry is desperately grasping for the elusive business model that makes bringing you the news (and criticism and local flavor) profitable over the long haul. No one's found it, yet.