The Knight News Challenge folks will be heading off to the Online News Association conference in Toronto on Tuesday (Oct. 16) for a few days’ worth of new media reality checks.
As a member of this merry troupe of experimenters, I’ll be moderating a panel on Becoming a Community Evangelist, which is perhaps the term du jour for citizen journalist, with Dan Gillmor, Jay Rosen, and Rob Curley of the Washington Post.
But mostly, I’ll be listening and comparing notes with old friends and new colleagues.
Every year seems to be a pivotal one for the news industry, but 2007 appears to mark a permanent and seismic shift in the media landscape.
No longer are bloggers seen as curiosities — hundreds of newspapers now feature their own blogs, staffed by reporters, editors and community contributors.
No longer do newspapers look at their readers as a nuisance they have to put up with. Now, at least some news organizations are working energetically to engage their users in startling new ways. Papers not previously known for their online savvy, such as the Cincinnati Enquirer, have begun enlisting their readers to become co-publishers in sites like cincyMOMS.com.
As newspaper circulation continues to plummet and chains used to 25 percent profit margins shed staff to please Wall Street — just today the San Jose Mercury News replaced its editorial Automobile section with one written by the Advertising department — we’ve begun to see a wide range of reactions, from a Poynter columnist suggesting that it’s our “duty” to read the print newspaper to the New York Times’ realization that it will make more money in the open marketplace of ideas rather than behind a pay firewall.
For the most part, however, the refrain coming from newsrooms is a familiar one: Let others innovate, and we’ll follow, when we’re ready.
On the same exact days that the Online News Association is holding its annual conference in Toronto, the third annual Web 2.0 Summit will take place in San Francisco, showcasing the best new technologies to come out of the Web 2.0 world.
While sites like Digg, TechCrunch, Twitter, NowPublic, Facebook, YouTube and Topix.net are out there experimenting, I’ll be keeping an eye out for glimmers of innovation at the ONA conclave, but checking online at www.web2summit.com to see where the real action is happening.