Omar L. Gallaga, technology reporter at the Austin American-Statesman
I’m much more optimistic about journalism than I was four years ago—even the most Luddite journalists have finally embraced blogging, social media has reenergized some news organizations that had become too insular, and I’m amazed with what some reporters are learning to do with big data and digital tools.
When I go to the international Symposium on Online Journalism every year, I’m always blown away by how people working in far-flung parts of newsrooms (infographics, new media, etc.) are thinking ahead to what’s next and I’m always inspired by what journalists overseas are doing with even more limited resources and, often, a tougher national infrastructure to deal with. The stuff that’s happening in mobile overseas—delivering news outside of traditional print/TV/desktop channels—is really amazing.
Chip Giller, founder and president of Grist.org
I’m going to risk my reputation as a card-carrying journalist by admitting that I never got that pessimistic about the future of journalism. It’s been painful, of course, to see so many colleagues affected by the newspaper crisis, and it can be unsettling when the future seems uncertain. But I don’t think “uncertain” means bad or dark; it just takes time and creativity to figure out what comes next. At Grist, we’ve been online since our founding in 1999, and we’ve always looked for unconventional ways to tell stories—whether it’s a multimedia tour of a sadly polluted neighborhood or an infographic about the climate bill—so we’re a little different in that regard. It’s been really exciting to see so many other outlets warming up to, even embracing, the possibilities of digital and social media over the last few years, and it’s pushing us to get much more creative in our approaches, too.
If you look around, you’ll see that journalism and technology are becoming more fused. Journalists are seeing the real potential of social media to help pursue stories and connect with their readers/users/the-people-formerly-known-as-the- audience/whatever-else-you-want-to-label-this-developing-partnership, and technologists are creating tools with storytelling in mind—things like Storify. We’re seeing storytelling partnerships like Buzzfeed and The New York Times, or even Twitter and NBC, that emphasize the idea that new and old can work together—and we’re seeing so much more engagement and energy and participation on the part of the audience. To me, that’s the most inspiring thing: journalism is no longer a one-way street. While that can be overwhelming at times if you’re used to putting a story out there and moving on, I think ultimately it is making our craft more resilient, more sustainable, more vital, and ultimately a lot more interesting.
Joe Klein, political columnist at Time
Not much has changed. Print still looking for a way to finance online
journalism. Television still dreadful.
[I’m inspired by] lots of terrific young journalists who actually report. We have a bunch
of them at Time and you see them elsewhere—i.e. Ezra Klein (no relation).
Gillian Tett, US managing editor of the Financial Times
As it happens I am more optimistic because it has become clear that there is still a strong demand for content, even when it is distributed via new channels. The industry is still in huge flux, but the limits and dangers of excessively customized information is becoming clear—people are still willing to pay to get not just news, but an intelligent filter for that news. The success of the NYT paywall shows that. So does the fact that combined FT circulation continues to rise, as the digital circulation overtakes print.
Warren Webster, co-founder of Patch.com
I am very optimistic about the future of journalism. The general population has spoken loudly about their need for reliable reporting and their concern about the decline. In response, the industry has slowly but surely begun to realize that they can change their method of delivery and their business models to find new ways to fill that need, without sacrificing the fundamentals principles of Journalism.
I believe the most inspiring sign is the level at which consumers are embracing new models for news and information, including Patch. As long as there is this amount of demand, and companies willing and able to fill the demand in new ways, the industry will be healthy.