The story of digital news, as told so far, seems to be leading to an equally bleak denouement. Yet there’s still time to write a better ending. News organizations must not allow slogans and corporate blandishments to take the place of true, collaborative innovation; they must find ways to use digital media to its best extent, rather than enabling its disfigurement for the sake of a few extra click-throughs. The open web and all it represents will wither if there is nobody to tend it; the news as a public good will not survive if its future rests in the hands of people who don’t actually care about the news. 

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Justin Peters is editor-at-large of the Columbia Journalism Review.