Will Journalism Survive?


... Even if it is already dead?

Consider this quote from Barry Diller (CEO of IAC and one of the most powerful and inluential media execs in the world today) in an interview with the Financial Times today (28 March 2007):

"Things move faster. So, that’s just inevitable. So, what is then the result of that in terms of the products created by journalists? I don’t know the answer to it. I know that you’re going to have to not think that you can do it always the way you did it today. You’re going to have to evolve, but do journalists and great news gathering organisations provide great value? Of course they do."

This is a nice, optimistic view - one that I intuitively share. It seems to mesh well with the Trends in Newsrooms 2007 report (by the World Association of Newspapers) released yesterday, in which a global survey of editors-in-chief of large and small newspapers shows that:

"As for user-generated content and reader interactivity, the public perception seemed to believe that newspapers were including these features just to play into readers’ new demands, but were secretly lamenting the negative effect these forms would have on journalistic quality. Again, not at all: 74% of respondents (see question 3) think that this evolving relationship with readers and users would be positive for journalistic quality."

And the report concludes about this particular aspect - citizen journalism:

"In conclusion, newspapers are currently embracing the new media revolution and novel forms of journalism, as editors and news executives open to the idea of free papers, citizen journalism and news as a conversation."

My problem is, I never doubted the fact that the people in charge of news organizations - managers and editors - have a strong sense of (the necessity and/or inevitability of) change. The problem is the implementation, encouragement, and overall management of such changes by these people. As research shows time and time again: at issue is not the quality of new ideas or the ambitions for change and innovation in media organizations, but the implementation of such processes. Change management is incredibly difficult, and ultimately only works if it is either carried by the professionals directly affected by these changes, or at least when the buy-in of employees is managed from the bottom-up.

PS: the picture of Diller is taken from the Coca Cola Company website, as Diller is a member of the board there.