CJR Report: The Reconstruction of American Journalism

19 10 2009

“Newspapers and television news are not going to vanish in the foreseeable future, despite frequent predictions of their imminent extinction. But they will play diminished roles in an emerging and still rapidly changing world of digital journalism, in which the means of news reporting are being re-invented, the character of news is being reconstructed, and reporting is being distributed across a greater number and variety of news organizations, new and old.”

That is according to a report published today in the Columbia Journalism Review, sepoct09_300x400authored by Leonard Downie Jr., the former executive editor of the Washington Post, and Michael Schudson, professor at Columbia’s graduate school of journalism.

The must-read report concludes with specific recommendations, including:

  • Tax breaks for news organizations “substantially devoted to reporting on public affairs.
  • “Increased foundation support.
  • Increased local focus by public radio and television.
  • News accountability oversight by universities.
  • FCC funding for local news coverage.Increased accessibility to information compiled and held by government agencies.

What is bound to be a chaotic reconstruction of American journalism is full of both perils and opportunities for news reporting, especially in local communities. The perils are obvious. The restructuring of newspapers, which remain central to the future of local news reporting, is an uphill battle. Emerging local news organizations are still small and fragile, requiring considerable assistance—as we have recommended—to survive to compete and collaborate with newspapers. And much of public media must drastically change its culture to become a significant source of local news reporting.

Yet we believe we have seen abundant opportunity in the future of journalism. At many of the news organizations we visited, new and old, we have seen the beginnings of a genuine reconstruction of what journalism can and should be.




One response

29 10 2009
Nicholas Lemann on the Journalism Crisis « InfoMash

[…] frequently alludes to the recent report by Columbia Professor Michael Schudsonand Leonard Downie Jr., the former executive editor of the […]

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