Why Traditional News Organizations Should Make Media Education a Priority: Prior Writings

As I work on the chapters for the book, I’m incorporating some of what I’ve been writing on these topics in recent years. Each of the following posts seems relevant to the chapter topic, “Why Traditional News Organizations Should Make Media Education a Priority”. (Special thanks to Josh Sprague, who put these pages together.)

Chapter 9: Why Traditional News Organizations Should Make Media Education a Priority

Pundit to Critic: Fuck You
It’s hardly surprising when someone fires back at a harsh critic of his or her employer’s competence and/or ethics. But when that someone is superstar New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, and the return fire takes the form, in part, of “Fuck you,” it raises a few eyebrows — and makes you wonder about a broader hubris. more…

Helping the Almost-Journalists Do Journalism
Doing journalism at its most basic level is a combination of two essential tasks. The first is reporting — gathering information via research, interviews, etc. The second part is telling your audience what you’ve learned — writing (in the broadest sense, including video, audio, graphics and more) and editing. more…

Stop Training Journalists? Uh, Oh…
Paul Conley is telling trade journalism honchos to, “No More Training” — a plea to employers to stop offering training in Web journalism to their employees. Huh? more…

Entrepreneurial Journalism Supported at CUNY
Jeff Jarvis, who runs the new media program at City University of New York, reports the great news of new support for journalistic entrepreneurialism & innovation: more…

Online Journalism Course Syllabus
Just in case anyone was wondering what I do when I teach at Berkeley, here’s this fall’s class syllabus. It’s a lot of fun to work with Bill Gannon, my co-instructor, and with the superb students at Berkeley. more…

Updating Journalism Education for This Century
This week is the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, better known in the field as AEJMC, where journalism and communications educators gather to ponder their profession. This will be my fourth such event, and in just a few years citizen journalism has moved from heresy — a topic to be considered, if at all, only in side conferences and hallways — to something that, while still not widely accepted, is at least of interest. more…

Benkler to Berkman, and the Role of a University
Yochai Benkler, the brilliant thinker about how modern collaborative tools are changing the economy and our lives in general, is coming to Harvard Law School and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, with which this center is affiliated (along with UC-Berkeley) and where I’m a research fellow. Benkler’s 2006 book, The Wealth of Networks, is probably the most important volume for understanding these changes. more…

Oddly Optimistic Journalism Students
I’ve been telling students who wonder about their futures to understand the changes in media, but not to get depressed about them. There’s never been a worse time to jump on the semi-standard career track of the past, where you worked for a succession of papers, each one bigger than the last, and hoped to end up at the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post or other major daily. Maybe one of the students I’ve taught this year — all of whom were immensely talented — will go that route. more…

Creating More Programmer-Journalists: Scholarships Available
It got a bit lost in the overall noise when the Knight Foundation announced the winners of its 21st Century News Challenge, in which the foundation awarded some $12 million in grants for creating new kinds of community journalism, but one of the most intriguing and potentially valuable winners was Rich Gordon at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. more…

Future of Public Access
Yesterday’s Beyond Broadcast session on the future of public access TV was a valuable conversation. As expected, my earlier suggestion, which I hoped would generate a lively conversation — to phase it out with a blast of training for citizen media creators — wasn’t greeted with universal praise (ahem). more…

Rethinking Media Education
The university where I’m co-teaching a course this semester is one of several in the nation currently engaged in a ritual that comes around to all such institutions from time to time: finding and hiring a new journalism dean. These searches will, I hope, engender some even broader discussions. more…

Beyond Broadcast: Future of Public Access TV
I think it’s time to phase out public-access TV and replace it with something more attuned to the Internet Age, and I wrote a blog posting to that effect. Jason has his doubts about this, to put it mildly, and has interjected some comments in my posting. more…

Newspapers in Education: Modern Oxymoron
Newspaper companies have been treating NIE programs like stepchildren for a long time now. Not once during my more than two decades in newspaper journalism did any employer ask me to visit as school as part of that initiative. I’d have gladly done it. more…

Education in New Journalism
There’s plainly a need for greater education of what I’ve been calling the “former audience,” the people who until recently have been nothing but consumers of news. They now have greater opportunity to put together news reports, from a variety of sources, replacing the static and linear products of a manufacturing age of news. More important, they can be part of the process: part of a conversation and a community. Many will be. more…

One thought on “Why Traditional News Organizations Should Make Media Education a Priority: Prior Writings”

  1. Hi Dan,
    I’m flattered that my thoughts may be playing some role in this chapter of your book.
    However, I’m going to ask you to take extra care to put them in context. I think the past 21 months have shown that I was right.
    So let’s review:
    I wrote that piece on Jan. 9, 2008. It was part of a larger series in which I warned that a recession was coming, that things would be awful in 2008, and that it was time to strike a defensive pose — cutting costs, etc. It was also time, I said, to stop wasting time on getting people ready for the fight ahead. I told B2B publishers that we were too vulnerable to spend resources on people who had failed to keep up.
    That was nothing new for me.
    A month earlier I warned that “2008 is going to be an awful year for B2B publishing” and urged the industry to reduce its revenue expectations and start worrying about the debt loads:
    Privately I warned my clients that disaster was upon us, that they needed to scale back expansion plans, lay off staff, renegotiate debt covenants and cut all nonessential spending — including any sort of continuing-ed training for journalists.
    It’s clear what I was saying as 2007 ended and 2008 began: The media industry was in grave danger. It was time for us to start acting like it.
    By April of 2008, things had deteriorated. I had been proven right. But I was taking no joy in it. Instead, I predicted that the B2B industry as we had known it was about to collapse. I wrote that “much of B2B publishing — weighed down by the twin albatrosses of junk bonds and rising print costs — has sunk into a death spiral.”
    I was right then too.
    As of today most of the B2B publishing giants are struggling. We’ve had companies seized by bondholders and banks. We’ve had more Chapter 11 filings than I can remember.
    On the other hand, there are dozens of B2B publishers that have weathered this storm quite well. A good portion of them have been my clients. They did what they needed to do in order to survive the downturn and be positioned for the recovery. They realized what so few other publishers, pundits and academics seemed to understand: when a crisis is driven by falling revenue, rising costs and untenable debt/equity ratios, the answer isn’t more training.
    It’s been 21 months since I wrote the piece that you say is relevant to the chapter.
    The companies and publications that adopted the tactics I suggested (and I was hardly the only person to suggest such moves) are still standing. I’m pleased by that.
    Lord knows I took a lot of grief for what I said then. Interestingly, very little of that grief came from people in the industry I was writing about (B2B.)
    But there was endless and often vicious complaining from people in B2C newspapers. They seemed not to understand that my blog, which is about B2B journalism, wasn’t about them. Hell, newspaper journalists think everything in journalism is about them. And they were adamant that training needed to be a priority in 2008. They said it was time to invest in the staff. If I remember right, they thought that training would save the newspaper industry. They kept saying something about improving quality as a way to move advertisers and readers to their newspaper Web sites.
    So, how did that work out?

Comments are closed.