Student: I want to tell the truth about journalism that nobody wants to say

Daily Californian | McGuire on Media

Mihir Zaveri discloses in the first graf that he wrote his essay on the state of journalism after drinking three bottles of BridgePort Kingpin Double Red Ale. ("For some reason my journalistic passion rears itself much more coherently after some level of inebriation," the UC-Berkeley student tells me in an email.) His point is that it's not the fault of Craigslist or the blogosphere that newspaper journalism has been turned upside down.

All of that stuff is on us, the journalists. It’s our fault. Our job was to report the news, and we did that. But we got complacent, and we stopped evolving, and soon the concept of a news article became far removed from what you, as a person, valued. Now we find ourselves in an awkward position where an indispensable component of democracy is slipping away, and we’re scrambling.

"We, as journalists, need to be in your face all the time," the UC-Berkeley student tells his readers. Newspapers need to be transparent -- "You need to know who the editors are, where they come from and what they value" -- and their journalists need to be out in the community. "We need to hold public meetings where you can come and talk to us about what we do and tell us what you like and what you don’t so that we can be better. We need to better serve you."

At last weekend's Society of Features Editors convention, veteran editor and educator Tim McGuire shared his thoughts on what newspapers are up against in the digital era:

I am afraid I am operating under the impression that Google, Groupon, Apple, Facebook and Twitter, new media startups and scores of garage entrepreneurs are out innovating newspapers on a daily basis. I am afraid I find little newspaper innovation breath-taking. I guess I am convinced that risk-takers without the mindset boundaries of newspapering are legitimate threats to newspaper survival.

If you believe I have a point I hope you’ll consider that if journalism is to be saved by newspaper practitioners, the hand cuffs must come off. We can’t think like newspaper people anymore.

We have to have the open minds of entrepreneurs. We have to have the innovative imaginations of liberated explorers. We have to embrace risk like bungee jumpers. We have to listen to young people as if they are our saviors, because they probably are.

  • Jim Romenesko

    From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August of 1999, after seeing his, a hobby site he started in May of 1999.


Related News

Email IconGroup 3Facebook IconLinkedIn IconsearchGroupTwitter IconGroup 2YouTube Icon