Sunday, February 13, 2011

Figuring out who we are as journalists

As online journalism moves into a decade when we will see consolidation, and rethinking, and more rewriting of the rules, and more of the Internet being reshaped in business's image, David Sullivan has put up a thought-provoking post about the rules of journalism and how maybe it's time to rethink and retrench a little.

Retrench, as in not go off headlong chasing every rumor that shows up on a website or a blog. Where do we draw the line? There is no percentage in trying to keep up with the whole Internet; its like trying to empty the ocean with a teacup.

The key in the coming decade will be for each of us - individuals and organizations - to figure out what we are and what we stand for, not, as Sullivan says, to try to be most things to all people. Retrench, yes. Withdraw, no.

As Sullivan writes in his discussion of the wild goose chase regarding a Philadelphia Eagles rumor:
[W]e need to stop thinking that we are competing with everyone in the world. We are competing with people who do what we do to gain the readership of people who want to follow what we do. Those are our customers. Other customers will go to other types of information. With every person having a printing press, it has to be that way. There are too many options to cover every bet. We have to figure out what customers we can get and what they want, and not be worried about the customers we won't get.

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