Magazine article American Journalism Review

Finding the Stories of the Future

Magazine article American Journalism Review

Finding the Stories of the Future

Article excerpt

In tornadoes of change around us, unimaginative thinking won't help.

Changing media technology continues to mesmerize, with many new questions remaining unanswered. The main one for journalists, since it involves the basic integrity of our work, is how much commercial undertow the convergence will have.

Marketing considerations will be central, but they always were. Nobody, even a century ago, wanted to work for a publisher who was not solvent. And very few wanted to work for a newspaper that was not read. Journalism's marriage of business and profession is historical.

But the convergence of media raises new specters that menace us unless we see them coming and put firm barriers in front of them.

At a recent conference run by New Directions for News, one consultant on the future spoke to the possibilities in packaging stories about, say, Tiger Woods. In addition to a story pegged to the news, he said, you could enable viewers/readers to drill down for features about Tiger's favorite foods, hobbies, etc.; his life story; and how to buy Tiger Woods golf clubs.

How's that again?

The futurist seemed puzzled by the journalists' negative howls.

Another observation about some of the futurists at this conference: not all, but a couple. They seemed disaster-prone about the future because they didn't have a sense of the past. If you're ignorant of history and don't have a careful respect for it, you may go for any number of nostrums that look like easy solutions to the problems of today. …

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