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Got gadgets?

Don Rogers

Our journalism isn’t quite interesting enough, relevant enough, seem important enough to bother with. So the readership across the country dwindles. That’s not the case at the Daily. We’re blessed with high readership in our little roost. But the trend elsewhere is damning.

So what to journalism organizations do about it? Cut staff and add gadgets.

Oh, and the usual blowhards go off as if they had real knowledge about why we’re blowing it.



Hey, the newspaper world’s got the Web sites, which readers do visit but newspaper sites are too fuddy-dud to work for the academics and Chicken Littles. We’ve also got Pod casts, other audio, video, the newspaper, the dumbed-down paper for the kids for free (no jumps!), cell-casts, e-mail flashes. Hey blogs, too.

Seems we’ve got everything but the real investment in real journalism. Instead, citizens will do this content thing for us, for free, apparently.

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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.



But the reader-viewer-listener potential is pretty much static, however many ways we slice and dice the presentation ” and squeeze the cost for it all out of the actual content gathering.

The revenue stream ” the blood and guts for the folks in charge ” is similarly split. So the vintage media, while scrambling to provide the gadgets are also cutting the manpower. Oh, boy.

The focus is to teach the ink-stained wretches how to write, speak, edit video and audio, and provide a half-dozen different types of reports before they even get to writing ” never mind reporting ” a full story.



Pointing out the quality issue with that approach is so … print. Ah, well.

So, am I bitter? Sounds like it, doesn’t it? Actually I’m not. This is an exciting time for journalism. At the end of our throes, we may even stumble into some right answers.

I think someone in time will figure out that journalism does matter. But not the lecture, we-went -to-a-meeting-and-important-things-were-decided type.

The power of the story will prevail. It worked when we sat around campfires. The same qualities will hold no matter whether the story is told on your cell phone, TV set, newspaper, book, wrist watch or personal hologram from Mom.

Narrative matters. Even we’ll figure that out someday. I’ll even bet a paper that focuses on telling the story well and for the people it’s supposed to serve will succeed.

It will have to be a paper where the business really does come second, the stock price doesn’t matter, and the newsroom is staffed well beyond the formulas. The owner will have to have sat at a campfire a time or two, and the culture will have to truly be focused on the reader. No lip service slogans; the real deal.

Yes, I’m cynical as can be about the business today. But I also believe this will actually happen in a few places. These few places may even carry the spark that ignites that next bright new thing. Actual journalism as a legitimate business model. Who’d a thunk?


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