A year ago today – Sept. 16, 2009 –Denver was the epicenter of the debate over the future of news in America.
Some 200 people packed the Colorado History Museum downtown that night, in the middle of a workweek, and spent three hours passionately talking about how to save the news.
Some were community leaders or journalists. Most were concerned citizens. Many who attended the event sponsored by Free Press were still reeling from the shocking closure six months earlier of one of the nation’s great newspapers, Denver’s Rocky Mountain News.
Last week, after much of the mainstream media worked itself into frenzy covering every angle of the Quran-burning story and the controversy over the proposed New York City Islamic community center, there was a moment of reflection in the press.
Journalists began investigating their own roles in fanning the fires of the controversies they were trying to cover. Memos swirled through newsrooms at the New York Times, Fox, and the AP discussing how to handle the story.
My last post, “No More Bleeding Ledes, Please”, has provoked a strong response from journalists, news producers and news consumers alike. I’m excited to have jumpstarted this discussion and want to respond to some of the themes that have emerged from readers’ comments.
Sensationalism is rampant in our consolidated news system, where scandal, celebrity gossip and violence (or the threat of looming violence) lead the headlines. Ever wonder why this is all we see and read and hear?
It isn’t simply that scandal and violence are all that’s happening in our communities; in fact, it’s the only news that companies want to cover. And they make it expressly clear to their reporters.
I recently had the good fortune to talk at length with Sven Egil Omdal, a journalist from Norway who is in the US on a sabbatical and is studying journalism’s digital transition. We talked about newspaper economics, new models and experiments, the future of public media and the role of public policy. I was intrigued by the similarities and the differences in how this debate is unfolding in Scandinavia as compared to the US.
Two separate, but intertwining trends -- the intense political activism of country's nearly 50 million Latinos and the historic fight to keep the internet as it is: free, flat and open-are fundamentally altering the meaning of freedom in the United States.