Outstanding report. We ought to make it a required reading by our journalism students.
A few random thoughts.
I worry this discussion could become too focused on the profiteers buying and selling properties in the largest markets. That's not the only locale for journalism -- and, maybe, no longer where one finds the core of American journalism values today. Serious, committed journalism still exists. It's being done in thousands of small and medium-size markets throughout the U.S. -- some still owned by families living in the towns they serve.
I just talked with one of these owners in Missouri -- willing to underwrite efforts to better inform readers about the voting actions of their legislators. In our school's home town of Columbia, we just need to look a couple of blocks away to find a privately owned newspaper that still nurtures good journalism and journalists.
Don't so quickly discount serious journalism on commercial radio. Yes, after federal de-reg. and ownership concentration, a lot of radio stations walked away from news -- but not all. In many major communities you can find at least one radio station providing serious, committed news coverage on community issues. The programming styles may have changed, but it is journalism.
My own radio station in St. Louis is an example. KMOX has retained its decades' long commitment to serious journalism. And, it ought to provide us with a bit of encouragement about the public's support for real journalism that a station with programming largely limited to news, information and discussion continues to retain the dominate, #1 rating in St. Louis.
I raise these examples of where quality journalism still exists because I worry we may have gone too far in adjusting our educational curricula to reflect the desires of the mass media profiteers. Maybe there should be a Vol. II of the manifesto -- detailing how American journalism education has responded (and should respond) to the market and technological changes so well described in Vol. I. What are the "action steps" we should take in what we teach in journalism schools to protect and preserve the essential core of journalism -- while still empowering our graduates to enter into the profession.
That, after all, is our highest responsibility. And, besides, it's where we will have the biggest impact on the future of journalism -- in the values we instill in the next generation of journalists.
I was delighted to see educating the public was included in the manifesto's action steps. That's an area where I think our own school could be doing a lot more. But, I've got a personal bias since this area is the focus of a new project I've undertaken with Missouri schools.
There's an international component to this issue as well. It was raised by a friend in central Asia with whom I've been working on a journalism assistance project. Besides training journalists, one of the major needs, she said, is to train the public on what to expect (and demand) in news. They've never seen it before and, so, have no basis to compare journalism from propaganda trash. As she was describing the situation in that country, it made me wonder about the depth of public expectations for journalism in my own country. In some areas, maybe it's already happening.
An interesting aside on the question the manifesto raises about what constitutes journalism -- we're already facing that in Missouri's statehouse press corps. I've been warned that one or more bloggers and Internet data dumpers are thinking of requesting press corps resources (chamber seating, parking, etc.). What they're doing is not journalism, but it sure is hard to codify the difference. And, if we in the press corps cannot easily codify the difference, it should be no surprise that the general public has difficulty making the distinction as well.
Missouri School of Journalism