#pdf09: Journalism Panel Lacks Vision and Urgency

NEW YORK — A panel at the Personal Democracy Forum 2009 on how the Internet has changed journalism and featuring such luminaries as Frank Rich and Scott Simon almost entirely ignored technology and discussed mere incremental change — at a time when other organizations are preaching disruption.

Of course, the Internet is a convenience.

“The Internet has made my life easier,” said Frank Rich of The New York Times. “I have access to more material sources, access to more documents. It’s literally another century since the 1990s.”

Scott Simon of National Public Radio said that when he runs out of questions, he posts a note to Twitter and gets great ideas.

Alternative business models for journalism

But the Internet cannot deliver cash to journalist volunteers.

“How will the Internet pay for citizen journalism? There’s some wonderful volunteer journalism on the Web but it’s costly. You get what you pay for,” Simon said.

“For veterans of journalism, this is a terrifying time,” Karen Tumulty of Time‘s Swampland blog admitted. She added that she watches Marcy Wheeler‘s fundraising thermometer and is interested in alternative methods of raising money for journalism.

Dan Gillmor a journalism professor who was at the San Jose Mercury News during the dot com boom, noted that there are many experiments now and that most startups fail.

Rich said that he’s reading an unpublished biography of Time founder Henry Luce and said that the original vision for Time magazine was to reprint short versions of articles. “They had no reporters for years,” he said. “The New York Times complained. But Time magazine eventually became a power that perpetuated the war in Vietnam.”

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