Nov 13, 2007

He who controls the narrative controls the world

A common theme found in news-reform propaganda is the story of the stale, dyed-in-the-ink editor or reporter who stands in the way of inevitable change. This asshole just can't get it through his thick skull that the Internet is here to stay, and so he resorts to all manner of foot-dragging, haggling and whining to keep this new reality from seeping in and destroying the old one.

How frustrating, right? Here we are trying to make progress and this Luddite is blocking our way forward.

Here's a version from L. John Haile, former Orlando Sentinel editor, found in a recent NAA posting. In his story, these bad actors have been vanquished and progress is finally at hand:

"In the newsrooms of all but the smallest papers of five to seven years from now, the editors who couldn’t quite let go have themselves been let go. And there are no jobs for journalists who continue to say they 'just don’t get it.'

"Newsrooms have finally abandoned that silliness of separating old and new media, with publishers and editors having recognized that their job wasn’t to introduce new products but rather to change the very business and the culture that drives that business."

Yeah, fuck those obstructionists! Throw them over the side where they will be eaten by the strong.

But there's another narrative worth considering. In this one, there are a few old codgers (and young ones) unwilling to change and plenty of old codgers (and young ones) who are. There are no convenient scapegoats for bad management decisions or dwindling ad revenue, no positive spin for why so many people were fired, no masking profit motives as idealism.

In this narrative, companies want to make more money and people get hurt in the process. Fear and avarice play a leading role, suckling incompetence and suffocating uncertainty. The "new" the "change" the "future" are seen for what they are: cloudy concepts used to shame anyone standing in the way of profit and that dissipate upon even the most cursory inspection.

In this narrative, multiple formats and platforms are called what they really are: entertainment designed to take advantage of a public hungry for easy distractions while at work and too impatient to digest thoughtful prose.

It acknowledges that "innovation" means investing in non-news operations to beef up bottom lines and that "citizen journalism," community blogging and hyperlocal are about building a loyal audience that will provide the mouse clicks needed to profit from new forms of advertising.

It knows that "imagining the future" means tearing down the walls that insulate newsrooms from monetary considerations when writing or covering a story.

It is aware that the first narrative is a virus designed to instill loathing for anyone who pushes back.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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