Making the online leap: CS Monitor

30 10 2008

Leave it to the Christian Science Monitor (how’s that for an oxymoron?) to be the first major daily print publication to make the online leap. You can read about their new business strategy here. John Yemma, CS Monitor editor pointed out that print journalism is “costly in terms of production and delivery and we recognize that print is not the issue, it is keeping the journalism alive.”

This statement echoes what many have been observing for quite some time now. Nick Davies calls it a “terminal” illness facing newspaper journalism, The State of the News Media 2008 reports that newspapers are “far from dead, but the language of the obituary is creeping in”. Media convergence, globalization and technological innovations have resulted in dwindling employment figures, profit margins and pagination patterns.

In his most recent blog post, Mark Deuze beautifully frames these developments in their broader context. Drawing on Jay Rosen’s concept of The People Formerly Known as The Audience, Mark notes a second power shift in media ecologies, one that

“erodes the very foundation of the way we know (and thus interact with) the world, and our ability to truly function in it autonomously, and on our own terms.”

This potentially devastating power shift materializes in the form of

“a sapping of economic and cultural power away from professional journalists by what I like to call The People Formerly known as the Employers.”

If we follow this line of thought, it is only a matter of time before we coin the phrase The People Formerly Known as the Journalists.

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5 responses

3 11 2008
discoursology

good points here, tom. am liking these notions of “people formerly known as the audience” and “..employers”. but i have to disagree with your “PFKATJ”!
audience is gone because they (we) have become users, viewsers, prosumers, etc. okay. am with you so far.

emplyers may also be losing their link to the word employer. because, as mark deuze writes they are increasingly withdrawing “from labor, that is, from taking responsibility for their creative workforce”.

but journalists – and this is a recurrent argument – can only disappear if you restrict your definition of journalist to professional journalist.
you seem to be implying citizen journalists or grassroots journalists don’t really belong to the category of “journalist” – correct me if i’m wrong…

3 11 2008
Tom Van Hout

good point, flyss. Yes, I was referring to professional journalism here (as were Jay Rosen and Mark Deuze), and no, I did not wish to imply that journalism can only be defined in the narrow sense of professionalism.
Let me rephrase that: if you follow the TPFKATA/TPFKATE line of thought, then it could be argued that in the current mediascape, The Employees Formerly Known as Journalists are walking dinosaurs.

3 11 2008
discoursology

TEFKAJ… okay. i can go with you on that (fairly polemic) thought.

nevertheless, i’d question that jay rosen’s “audience” is simply limited to professional journalism. the whole concept of “audience” associated as it was in the 80s with passivity no longer seems to fit, whether it’s in relation to traditional print press or tv, or in the lands of the blogs and interactive news, etc.

the next question then is: which of these developments are beneficial and which detrimental for the mediascape?
i’d suggest:
TPFKATQ = advantageous (democratising force)
TPFKATE = perhaps less advantageous (mark deuze is associating it with lack of responsibility on the part of the employers, and a rabid encroaching marketisation of the field)
TEFKATJ = … over to you tom.

4 11 2008
Tom Van Hout

TEFKATJ = potentially (very) advantageous, and IMHO, a natural course of events.

I see the majority of professional journalists becoming social mediators, weaving (and connecting) storyline after storyline from the endless clutter of publicly available information. Writing news stories, reporting (breaking) news or contributing to the continuous news cycle in any shape or form will no longer be a primary concern. Managing a news cycle in a specific domain will be the bread and butter of professional news ‘aggregators’. Not gatekeeping but gatechanneling, i.e. à la socialmedian.com: “helping people get the news that matters most to them on any number of topics from any number of sources”.

The select few who keep on writing will provide exclusive/’novel’/expert content for every-other-day-or-so news outlets which cater to specific – dare I say? – audiences.

19 01 2009
Pinkslipped and in the shadows « Tom Van Hout

[…] those who wonder ’so what?’ (hi, mom!), shadow media reshuffle the cards once again. As the people formerly known as journalists continue to branch out, expect social media to gain even more prominence in shaping public […]

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