"The future is pro-am." (see below) "Breaking the News" (PDF), Wired magazine, 8.07
The past year I was invited to spend time with and speak to the leadership team of the Ft. Worth Star Telegram, one of the larger newspapers in the country. The publisher, a highly respected newspaperman in the industry, wanted to challenge his print/web teams to re-think the impact of 2.0 technologies. While I am hardly an expert, I was flattered and excited to play a role in helping them lead their long-term planning discussions.
In preparation for our day together, I spent an amazing amount of time researching the print newspaper world. As many of you know, this is a business/profession under siege on all fronts. Major newspapers all across the US (and world) are slashing journalists and budgets left and right. Finding it impossible to compete for ad revenues (what pays the journalists to do great work) in a media-saturated world, most of it because the internet has changed the game. And we're not even getting into the amateur world of 'journalist' bloggers, either.
In any event, the very survival rate of a newspaper in this day and age depends on re-thinking the very definition of a newspaper. And how they collect/organize/publish the 'news' and content that attracts viewers/audiences. Seems -- drum roll, please -- a lot like the world of education, except that most schools are still funded through public coffers and are not often seen in business terms (superficially; although it changes dramatically if you spend time in the district office!).
Was reading the 8.07 issue of Wired this weekend. Martha Stewart is on the cover in case you're scanning the magazine shelfs in the coming days/weeks. Struck by the "Breaking the News" article (PDF) that covers the way a few newspaper outfits are reinventing the very DNA of their offices/efforts. The following struck me as being particularly related to the 'learning in the future' discussions we've all be having in the edu-blogosphere as of late:
The Web was to become the primary vehicle for news, with frequent, round-the-clock updates. The newsroom would be rechristened the Information Center, while traditional departments like Metro and Business would give way to the Digital and Community Conversation desks.
Photographers would be trained to shoot video, which would be posted online. Investigations would no longer be conducted by a coven of professionals working in secret.
Instead, they’d be crowdsourced—farmed out to readers who’d join in the detective work. Gannett papers would also become repositories of local information, spilling over with data about everything from potholes to public officials’ salaries.
“We must mix our content with professional journalism and amateur contributions,” read one of the PowerPoint slides prepared by Gannett execs. “The future is pro-am.”
Newspaper offices become Information Centers. Content is crowdsourced. The future is pro-am.
Will schools be described in similar ways in our futures? Why? Why not?