Maybe It's Time To Think Bigger?

newjournalism.jpgSo journalism has to change. Everyone gets that. But most new models I see are really traditional journalism gussied up in new tools. Or, they reinvent in such a way that throws away some traditional journalistic values.

Most conceptual re-imagining of journalism is still tied to the events-of-the-hour sort. What happened today. Traditional journalism has been good at this kind of reporting, not just because it was a useful service, but because it was possible. This is a mass media model – content that can be somewhat targeted and personally delivered but not personally customized to any great degree.

Getting more personalized information is both easier and more difficult. Want to know the value of the house down the street or the crime statistics on your block? There’s the library (the easy part) and now the web. But if you want to know where your specific bus is and when it will arrive, that was more difficult. The most important news while you’re waiting for the bus is probably when it’s going to get to you. But ten minutes from now, while you’re on that bus, the most important news might be the traffic. And after that, the latest people are saying about that new restaurant you were planning to go to for lunch.

Reporting on larger events of the day is still important. But this individual news, accessible exactly when and how you need it is likely more personally compelling. Most news organizations don’t think of this stuff as journalism. But why not? Are comics journalism? The crossword puzzle? There are lots of things journalism hasn’t been, for one reason or another, and now could be. Here’s one scenario imagined at Fast Company:

Peer into the future and imagine the landscape of information that
could be available to you. When connected to high-speed, wireless
Internet, two people looking at the same street could access completely
different information. One might call up postings for nearby school
events, while the other might opt to see news about a campaign to fix
local sidewalks following the last earthquake. Users could add to this
cloud of news right from where they stood, or from anywhere else with
network coverage. This customized mix of news feeds could include the
local, international, social, personal–or just plain weird.

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