Journalism: The old is new and the new is old

I love journalism. I love it with a passion. I love good journalism. Well executed journalism. Well researched journalism.

I care less about the AP Style Guide and more about engaging content. I care less about J-school degrees and more about thoughtful and provocative prose with a dedication to facts. I care less about conglomerate media organizations and more about the reporters, writers and personalities who make up CNN and the New York Times of the world.

I am just a blogger. I have been writing for over six years and I’ve swung from the “new media will kill old media” mode to “new media and traditional (I don’t call it old anymore) media” have a place together. Still, many bloggers (and social media people as a whole) get locked in an us and them struggle with their traditional peers. We see it in the music industry, in access to sports, in public relations and marketing, etc. Everyone loves the us vs. them argument.

Here’s the dirty little secret though: Without ‘them’, there is no ‘us’ and without ‘us’ there is no ‘them’. We are married together for the future of the industry forever. And that goes for all industries where these conversations happen.

What really is happening is a separation of the power brokers from the base of power. In other words, in public relations, professionals at the agencies go about their mindless drone job of push, push, push without ever really talking, tracking, monitoring or engaging the demographic they are trying to reach.

In the NFL, for years the clubs engaged in tactics with bloggers that delegitimized the coverage they were receiving and, in fact, the public was consuming… only because bloggers typically didn’t write for large media organizations.

In fact, Jay Rosen, a Professor at the New York University School of Journalism (And one of the smartest, most insightful journalism critics I know of), characterized this problem on Twitter by observing how the White House Press Corps engages.

Indeed. Though one could ask why the White House Press Corps would communicate directly with the public instead of with the White House, where their job is. Nonetheless, the greater point that is being made is that Traditional media that communicates with the base of power (the citizens and customers) is generally able to perform their art in a more meaningful way.

New Media exists to bridge a gap. We will never replace traditional journalism. On the other hand, traditional journalism will never eliminate new media. The bigger question is… why would either side want to do those things at all?

5 Replies to “Journalism: The old is new and the new is old”

  1. All I wanted to say is:

    The answer to your last question comes from a mentality that can best be described by a famous Western line – “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.”

    My mom (who works for a magazine) and I often talk about the traditional vs. new media dichotomy, mostly saying “How much news can one person take in?” I think a lot of people were worried blogs would become the new source of how Americans get their news, but I don’t think anyone is ever going to want to get their news solely from me or you. At the same time, there’s only so much of AP style one person can consume, particularly when there are shiny objects like Perez Hilton (or, heck, Stephen Colbert) to distract you.

    The two can exist and will exist together.

    Now, whether either of those groups will ever make much money doing it — whether large groups of people will want to pay the New York Times or Citizen Blogger X to get their news every day when there are so many competing groups that provide (or aggregate) the same information for free — that’s another question for another day.

  2. Aaron – I REALLY like your post and the balanced approach you’ve taken in pointing out that, “Without ‘them’ [traditional media], there is no ‘us’ and without ‘us’ [new media] there is no ‘them.'” I’ve actually done a lot of thinking about this and wrote a post several weeks ago where I talked about the need for both traditional AND new media to complement one another versus compete with one another. Both have their place and both fill a need. The sooner we can figure out how to work better together, the more value the end users (the readers) will derive.

    Thanks for such a thoughtful post.

    Aaron | @aaronstrout

  3. Most of the traditional media press corps (including those using new media),
    are in bed with the @Whitehouse, not voters.

    Jay is sharp, but too close to it to see it.

    Thoughtful, reasoned post, Aaron.

  4. I see a lot of resistance from “traditional” journalists to embrace new media as a legitimate news source. Journalists who are anti-bloggers like to paint all bloggers with the same brush in order to discredit them. I think it’s partially job security. Journalists who work for traditional media are seeing their readership decline while people get their news from other sources, and some don’t know how to deal with that.

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