More from Jan Schaffer, leading thinker
As a leading thinker in the journalism reform movement, based at the University of Maryland, a leading reform j-school, Schaffer has lots of thoughts. Here's one, which she shared on the Newspaper Association of America blog "Imagining the Future of Journalism":
"Ultimately, the marketplace will decide what is news. News will be whatever adds value in a noisy information landscape, whatever helps people get their jobs done, whatever imparts wisdom, and whatever elicits gratitude. To figure this out you also need some new players in your info-structure."
Now, I don't want to quibble, as I always try to avoid argument when I can, but I can think of many things in this world that add value in a noisy information landscape (search engines, peer reviews, the off button), helps people get their jobs done (computer, stapler, coffee), impart wisdom (grandpa, fortune cookies, Dr. Phil), and elicit gratitude (compliments, yearly bonus, gifts) that aren't news.
At the risk of being labeled a "can don't-er," the marketplace doesn't do things like decide what is news. It decides what will sell and for what kind of profit. Blurring this line is the kind of dishonesty good journalists used to call "bullshit" when it came from leading thinkers and reformists in government.
Frankly, all of this reformist talk sounds desperate. Like rationalizing why one needs to lower one's standards to get laid. It's not that I have a bad self-image or self-destructive streak, it's that I don't wear slutty enough clothes or go to enough singles bars.
I don't imagine a future where journalists have to respond to the whims of the marketplace in deciding how to do their jobs. That seems somehow irresponsible to me. But maybe I lack leading-thinker qualities.
Decide for yourself by reading Schaffer's entire post here.