To Save Journalism, First Change How You Perceive \”Media\”

(NOTE: I originally posted this item on Poynter’s group weblog E-Media Tidbits.)

“The Emperor’s New Clothes” is my favorite fable, because I’ve always thought that speaking truth to power is the bravest and most useful thing anyone can do. That’s why I fell in love with journalism, too.

Speaking truth to power isn’t always about revealing what’s hidden, but rather declaring the obvious and thus yanking entire communities out of their collective delusions. Over at Corante’s “Rebuilding Media” blog, media consultant and former E-Media Tidbits contributor Vin Crosbie just accomplished this singular feat.

Crosbie’s Apr. 27 essay, What is ‘New Media’? is absolutely vital reading for anyone who cares about helping journalism survive as news organizations eagerly butcher and “converge” themselves into oblivion. And no, I don’t think “butcher” is too harsh a word — it’s the term Crosbie chose in his somewhat inflammatory but well-supported preamble, A Date with the Butcher. So read the “Butcher” setup first, then the longer essay.

Crosbie’s “Butcher” piece will probably scare the fedoras off hardcore old-school news pros. Read it anyway. Here’s one of his key points…

“The radical changes the newspaper industry needs to implement arise from a more true understanding by that industry of why newspaper readership began declining well before the Internet was opened to the public; about why one billion people worldwide have gone onto the Internet after it was opened to the public (they didn’t do it to read traditional media on computer screens).”

…From there, the essay What Is ‘New Media’? picks up with a lengthy but effective step-by-step explanation of the perception shift news organizations must undergo in order to comprehend why they’ve been steadily losing their audiences. This is the key to understanding how news organizations might evolve to save themselves — and indeed, journalism itself.

Neither piece provides clear advice for how news organizations can act upon this new understanding. I’m hoping Crosbie will write more on that angle later. Meanwhile, I’ve got some thoughts on that front, and I’ll share them after I’ve mulled them over further.

What do you think of Crosbie’s treatise?

(Thanks to Hypergene MediaBlog for highlighting Crosbie’s work.)

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