Posted on August 7, 2008
Some still — still — don’t get it
The exclamations of amazement and disgust (x 2) at the Philadelphia Inquirer’s new online policy (or should we say non-online policy? Anti-online policy?) reminded me of something someone told me yesterday about a discussion in a newsroom, very recently, at a large metro daily. (Sorry, I’m not allowed to say which one.)
In a meeting in which the Internet and online trends of all sorts were discussed at some length, an older journalist said something like: It’s as if there are two parallel universes, the online world and the real world.
The younger journalists in the room (at whom my source immediately looked) rolled their eyes and made small helpless gestures with their hands.
There are not two universes, folks. There is only one. A lot of people live there, but apparently, some journalists don’t.
If the Inquirer’s managing editor, Mike Leary, lived in the universe of simultaneous and continuous online/offline life, as many of us do, I don’t think he would have written that memo.
I don’t mean to imply that all young journalists are online-savvy — they’re not. And plenty of the most online-savvy folks I know in journalism are over 50. So this is not an age thing at all — it breaks out that way sometimes, but age is not the point here. I work around young people who conduct at least 50 percent of their social life on screens and keyboards — there is very little separation of online and offline for them. But I sure do see a lot of 50-plus professionals in airports and elsewhere with screens in front of them too. Fewer and fewer with newspapers. (In fact, when was the last time I saw anyone reading a newspaper in an airport or on a plane?)
Keeping your news and information offline until after the paper version comes off the trucks?
What possible benefit could that have?
Update (Aug. 8): Steve Yelvington says, “Our job is to serve the public, not advance one medium and oppose another.” Jay Small says, “It’s like saying the public’s right to know can wait, now even must wait as a matter of news organization policy, until our cash registers ring.”