200 Moments that Transformed Journalism
Funny thing about the transformation of media: there's often no way to tell, in the moment, whether any given development signals a passing fancy, a seed of destruction or a glimpse of tomorrow.
Thus were most of us puzzled, at the time, by the introduction of the CueCat, the acquisition of Times Mirror and the founding of Facebook.
But there's nothing like a little hindsight to provide some context.
Looking back on what he describes as the most significant decade in the history of the news media, Poynter Library director David Shedden has selected 200 developments from 2000 to 2009 as "moments that transformed journalism."
To scan those moments, click on the graphic below to launch a special interface designed and built by Poynter technology fellow Dave Stanton. Sara Quinn, who teaches in Poynter's visual journalism programs, helped all of us think creatively about the idea of moments in time, presented on a screen. Work on the project was made possible by a grant from the Carnegie Foundation, which has supported Poynter's efforts in the area of news transformation.
Shedden, who joined Poynter in 1986, selected these moments from the New Media Timeline he created and maintains to track the evolution of news from 1969 (when the Internet was invented) through the present.
Not all of Shedden's 200 moments are as consequential as his first entry for the year 2000 -- the acquisition of the Time Warner media empire by that once feisty startup known as America Online.
As Shedden reports, that deal would eventually be described as one of the biggest corporate failures in American history, with the destruction of more than $100 billion in shareholder value by the time AOL and Time parted ways near the decade's end.
If your experience of the moments is anything like mine, you'll find yourself marveling at milestones missed when they occurred. Did you know, for example, that at some point in 2004, content surpassed communications as the leading online activity?
Some of Shedden's moments, like Apple's introduction of its iTunes store on April 28, 2003, seemed to have little to do with news at the time. By the time news organizations staggered across the decade's finish line, though, more and more analysts were studying Apple's disruption of the music industry to understand the collapse of journalism business models.
As NYU professor Clay Shirky has famously observed, the problem with most revolutions is that the old stuff gets broken more quickly than the new stuff gains traction.
You'll find ample evidence of that in Shedden's collection. But you'll also find signs of media reinvention and regeneration, an often messy substitution of old means of gathering, presenting and consuming news with replacements that are getting those jobs done in new and often promising ways.
Shedden's final two entries for 2009 reflects just that sort of fall and rise, with the death of the Rocky Mountain News and the birth and growth of such ventures as ProPublica, Spot.Us and the Voice of San Diego.
These 200 moments reflect no consensus at Poynter, let alone any sort of wider agreement among journalists or the scholars struggling to make sense of these 10 tumultuous years kicking off the 21st century.
We do hope they'll become a conversation starter, and we invite you to challenge, applaud or amplify these 200 moments with some of your own.