This is perhaps the most exciting time to be an online journalist, at the most exciting time in the media sphere. Yet, at ONA, where was the passion? Where was the excitement about working in the most innovative time in the history of media? In its place what I see is self-doubt, existential crisis, a siege mentality. The media companies, yes, they're threatened, but for them, the bottomline matters, and in most cases, growing. But it is the people who work in those media companies, these journalists, who feel the most direct effect of things like blogs, the blogs beating them up, and generally, the increasing attention competition they have from all other forms of media.Interesting to me is that this is how the mainstream media is working through the understanding of the new medium. After spending time in the corporate world, the consulting realm (both large and small) and the start-up realm, what I see is a group of media players in New York working though their ownthought process. They are searching for a way to engage this new space (where the majority of men and young women find their news online) without losing the battle in the other spaces.
In conversations I have had in the past 36 hours, I have learned that most companies are now ready to engage the concept of blogging and "citizen journalism" - but they face the challenge of their own internal processes (e.g. Standards and Practices) as well as the risk adversion they have with legal issues or PR impact (see CBS's black eye with Dan Rather and Memogate). One thing I think the members of the Web 2.0 community and the fast-bandwidth entrepreneurs either inherantly understand is being smaller and nimbler can often bring you to the front very quickly, but the larger, more established can build the solutions from the experiences of the risker ventures to bring about what will fit within the existing mindset. While this offers new startups a chance to create something that can be acquired and businesses built and sold, hopefully companies will engage and inbue their companies with the innovation that will be required to move to the next level of journalism in 2015.
Minor aside: panelist just said "AI is us" - remember that the best handwriting system created for handhelds was not an automated system learning all variations of handwriting, it was us learning the handheld's "handwriting" (Graffiti) to make Palm take off.
Tags: web 2.0 mainstream media citizen journalism