Sunday, March 22, 2009

Why are these editors so downright giddy?

There was something interesting about the editors giving advice to Michelle Nicolosi, the new editor of the Seattle Post Intelligencer's online-only edition in CJR's recent piece "To the P-I, on Its First Day."

Talk to any journalist today, and you get a lot of gloom and doom. A lot of talk about how the demise of newspapers is catastrophic for democracy. About how online news sources can't possibly deliver the quality we saw in print. About much will be lost when newspapers are gone.

But not these editors. Oddly, these folks speaking directly to the editor of the first online-only city daily in the country, the editor starting out with a measely staff of 20, yes that's right, 20! These editors were anything but doom and gloom. In fact, they seemed down right giddy.

Their insights were peppered with words like "liberating" and "exciting". They talked about the excitement of being able to experiment and try new things--and discover cool stuff when their experiments worked out. They talked about being freed from the tyranny of having to cover everything, from the canon that said you had to "run after every ambulance, or chase after every press conference.” They talked about how having "everyone do everything" was actually great.

So who were these iconoclasts speaking so far from the conventional wisdom within journalism circles? They were the editors of several of the online-only newspapers that have emerged in the last couple of years: the Chi-Town Daily News, Voice of San Diego, and MinnPost.

This is good news for journalism. These are the people who've already been to the future. And they're telling us: It really isn't all that bad. In fact, it's quite liberating. And exciting.

Photo courtesy of localsurfer. Creative Commons license.

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