The business is your business

We haven’t talked much this semester about the business of journalism. It’s a massive and unwieldy conversation. Where should we begin?

The journalism my generation did wasn’t that different from the journalism of the generation before. We were maybe a little pushier, a little more arrogant because we thought we were sitting on the bench for the team whose stars were Woodward and Bernstein. We imagined huge crowds just sitting there, waiting to watch us be smart and wonderful. We were so busy feeling entitled to the audience’s attention that we didn’t notice when they headed for the exits, and we got ourselves in some trouble. That part isn’t even over.

I think watchdog and investigative journalism will survive; they must. But that journalism is only a very small part of what’s happening right now. New ideas and business models emerge out of the dust of disruption all the time, and it’s important to pay attention to what’s working, what not so much — at least not at this moment (and I have been around long enough to be able to say with confidence that timing is huge).

Equally important: listening to your own creative voice about what’s possible, what you might want to make, and what you think is missing. What do you as a content consumer wish you had in your life to do/know what’s important to you? It’s not all about “news” in the traditional sense; it’s about usability of information. You have a place in that creative world. Start thinking like a person who might start his/her own business even if you’ve never done it before. Give it a try. (Guess what? It’s incredibly fun.)

Tomorrow in class, Missouri Honor Medalist Michael Golden will talk about the business, and he has a global perspective, thanks to his role in the International Herald Tribune and its recent transition to the International New York Times. (I’ve seen Michael’s presentation; you don’t want to miss this conversation.)

Start thinking about questions you might want to ask him. It’s your chance to glean some wisdom from someone deeply immersed in the business, the one you will inherit in some form. Or maybe it’s the one you will reject as you yourself become a disruptor. It could happen.

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