Jan Schaffer on the death and rebirth of journalism

(near Tarrytown, NY) If you want to know the latest development in journalism that relate to civic engagement and democracy, Jan Schaffer from the J-Lab is the person to ask. Here (shared with her permission) is her PowerPoint presentation entitled “The Death and Rebirth of Journalism.”

The big trends she sees are:

  • Metro dailies’ disappearing portfolios (Not only do the metropolitan daily newspapers lack revenue, but they are not covering foreign news, national news, or arts & culture; and their suburban readers don’t need their city hall coverage)
  • New owners – new rules? (The new newspaper owners made their money in technology and may expect entirely different models.)
  • Media entrepreneurship is at an all-time high (Lots of startups and new models)
  • Calls for new models of journalism (from reporters themselves)

And her reasons for optimism:

  • Investigative news startups (ProPublica, the Investigative News Network, etc.)
  • Indie news startups (lots of small online news sites, often devoted to neighborhoods, sometimes profitable.)
  • Niche sites (specialized, expert sites on politics, arts, climate, etc.)
  • Tech sites with news portfolios (companies like Yahoo are bringing real journalists onboard)
  • Non-narrative news (games, interactive maps, searchable databases as alternatives to news stories)
  • Soft advocacy sites (advocacy organizations for issues like smart growth or school reform that start producing genuine news without making it all narrowly subservient to their agenda.)

Much more detail in the PowerPoint.

About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.
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