Stop the Presses, Somebody’s Making Sense

Whip me, beat me, take away my charge card, I would like to kiss this entire speech by Digital First CEO John Paton with tongue:

All of us have been subjected to the annual spectacle of a gaggle of print publishers gathering on a panel – Doug Knight, our moderator this evening, has officiated over a couple of these – to declaim they are not dead yet.

It’s an embarrassing display played out time and time again at conferences where our industry heads look like aging ingénues at Stratford declaring they can still play Juliette. And nobody has the heart to break it to them.

Or worse still, mediocre journalists, wrapping themselves in the flag of long-form journalism, to deride the value of social media as a reporting tool. A tool they don’t understand or care to understand.

And then having to watch them use that ignorance to dismiss the phenomenon of participatory journalism.

When I hear these hacks cry out that their work can’t be reduced to 140 characters I always think – if only – and pine for the useful hours I could get back in my life if spared their thumbsuckers.

And while these false, zero-sum arguments play themselves out, Rome burns.

And in the United States of America, where I work, the fire is burning faster and fiercer than ever before.

I wish I could quote the whole thing. It’s glorious in its righteous fury and assignment of blame exactly where blame is deserved: On the people who killed newspapers on purpose, for years, and then had the temerity to encourage reporters to turn on their fellow writers, in many cases their fellow journalists, and blame them for the deaths.

It continues to boggle my mind that we spend more time attacking one another — endless defensive pieces railing against “citizen journalists,” who one acquaintance sneered were like “citizen surgeons” — than we do attacking the powerful interests who stymie the public’s pursuit of free exchange of information. We would rather sit around the table and sort out who is and who isn’t a journalist than we would actually go out and do some journalism ourselves.

We would rather fight over who truly has earned an Extra Shiny Real Journalist’s Cracker Jack Badge than talk about whether the revelations uncovered by a blogger, or someone with a Twitter feed, are true or false. The Authenticity Olympics, I suppose, being easier to compete in and win than the Talent ones, but how pathetic is that? The work is what matters, at least to the people you’re supposed to be serving. And they are what matters to you:

If it is not core to your business- and in newspapers core means content and sales – then reduce it, stop it, sell it or outsource it.

And for God’s sake stop listening to newspaper people. We have had since the mid-90s to get this right and clearly we are no good at it.

Put the digital people in charge – of everything.

They can take what we have built and make it better.

It is so very important we get this right – not just for the industry and investors – but for our communities.

Swooning, viaRomenesko.


x-posted to FireDogLake

3 thoughts on “Stop the Presses, Somebody’s Making Sense

  1. Very good speech.
    Journalism has been dealing with (at least) 2 big problems — first is the technology revolution which would challenge even talented visionary leaders. Second is the pressure which has hit many public companies: the monied focus on the short-term bottom line. It’s hard to push a transformational, revolutionary plan at the same time that resources (people, places, and things) are being slashed. Better to just suck the life out of the company for the betterment of the shareholders, right?
    “‘Bain’ of our existence” indeed.

  2. Thanks. Great stuff. Just emailed a copy of it to the only person I still trust/read at the local newspaper.

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