Layoffs, buyouts, furloughs, and more than a few shuttered newspapers and magazines. That’s definitely part of the story of 2009. Yet, at the same time, many established news organizations pushed online with impressive results, and online-only organizations continued to grow and innovate.
Now, with 2009 ending, we have a new year of media to ponder. I contacted a selection of media people and asked them to name their biggest media wish for 2010.
New Year’s Wishes from Media Folks
David Carr, Media Equation columnist, New York Times: “I’d like old/new media to put away the squirt guns and start exploring the venn diagram where interests intersect and collaboration can take place. A more sustainable model of news production is evolving as we speak: the whining and blaming is just delaying a practical discussion about how we all move forward.”
Josh Cohen, senior business product manager, Google News: You know that feeling in your stomach on New Year’s Day? Part trepidation, part excitement, part hangover? Right now, the news industry seems struck with a mix of fear over what changes might yet come and excitement over the many paths available to it. The Internet is offering more and more opportunities for getting great journalism in front of eager consumers. A ton of ideas are swirling around — exciting ways to distribute news, tap into citizen reporting and generate revenue. No one quite knows which ones are going to work. It’s both terrifying and thrilling.
So my wish for 2010 is that the parties that have an interest in this — news organizations, technology companies and others — just dive in and start trying everything. Whether they do it on their own or through partnerships with Google or our competitors, news publishers need to keep innovating. Let’s spend less time discussing, more time launching and iterating. I know we’re a bunch of optimists at Google, but I’m really hopeful that 2010 is the year that journalism really hits its stride on the Internet.”
David Cohn, founder of Spot.us: “My wish for 2010 is that it be a year of doing. I hope the larger media industry continues the ongoing conversation about the state of journalism, but not unless it means taking action. Next year should be the year we stop writing/reading the white papers and start being the change we wish to see.”
Megan Garber, staff writer, Columbia Journalism Review: “Assuming we can’t wish for 1,000 more wishes — and/or for some billionaire oil baron to take a sudden interest in funding journalism — I’d hope, broadly, for more collaboration. Among individual journalists, among news organizations, among individual journalists and news organizations. One silver lining in all our current gloom is that the media industry now has the opportunity to reinvent itself — to imagine what journalism might be when freed from the constraints of historical accident. As we take advantage of that opportunity, I hope we’ll be willing — and eager — to overcome outdated notions of reflexive competition, and to embrace instead a much more contemporary sensibility: ‘We’re all in this together.’ “
Seth Godin, author, blogger, speaker and marketing expert: “A wish? That media companies would stop whining and start building. This is the chance of a lifetime.”
**Tara Hunt, blogger, speaker and author of The Whuffie Factor* “My media-related wish is that all the websites out there that we use daily would start to work together more effectively, alleviating me from the pain of having to update my address in a gabillion different places. I moved to Montreal this summer and have been finding places all over the web that require updating.”
Craig Kanalley, founder of Breaking Tweets and now with the Huffington Post: “My media wish for 2010 is for news companies of all kinds to put aside differences of the past, egotism and self interests to work together. News organizations in 2010 should link to each other (yes, the competition), collaborate with each other, and get aggressive in implementing new media strategies and models that fit this web-first media world. It’s time to put an end to archaic practices of the past and to think about how to do good journalism with the tools available to journalists today.”
Hamilton Nolan, contributing editor, Gawker: “Jobs! I would wish for media jobs. Jobs for young people just coming up, jobs for everyone who got laid off, jobs for people who’d like to move up in the industry, dream jobs for people to aim for. Paying media jobs that people can live on and realistically hope to get. Although I’m not optimistic!”
Jolie O’Dell, community manager and writer, ReadWriteWeb: “My wish is twofold: First, I’d like for everyone to stop bemoaning the ‘death of newspapers,’ ‘the demise of old media,’ and ‘the murder of journalism (subtext: by bloggers).’
“And second, I’d like to see web applications and social media integrated into every journalism class in America. J-school kids ought to be taught SEO principles, such as metadata and tagging. They should be taught what constitutes a good Digg headline and how to get retweets. They should know about page views, clickthroughs, and conversion rates.
“Because these are all the things I wish I knew when I graduated and found myself working at a digital publication. It happened to me, and I’d wager it’s going to happen to around 75 percent of the graduating class of 2010, as well. If those graduates are as unprepared for the Internet as I was, then we can really start to weep and wail for the passing of journalism.”
Jack Shafer, Press Box columnist, Slate: “I have no wishes, no desires, no passion. I am a lukewarm mud-puddle. Sorry.”
Rachel Sklar, editor at large, Mediaite: “My 2010 wish is for quality. I have no problem with page-view bait — Megan Fox, anyone? — but I do worry about gunning for traffic at the expense of quality. The good stuff takes time. It always has and it always will, but the payoff is so much more important than just another ‘Twilight’ slideshow. I love ‘Twilight’ slideshows (Team Edward!) — that stuff is fun, and I never want to lose the fun stuff. But the flip side of the mini-wheat has to be there, too.
“That’s not only the reason they give out Pulitzers, but also the reason corruption is uncovered and injustices exposed and hypocrisies revealed, and that’s important. More and more, looking around the media space, I worry about losing that — about the bosses losing that as the highest goal, and the newbies losing that as a goal in the first place. So my wish in 2010 is for quality time spent on quality content that matters, and makes a difference. Heck, it might even get page views.”
Craig Silverman is an award-winning journalist and author, and an associate editor at MediaShift and Idea Lab. He is the founder and editor of Regret The Error, the author of Regret the Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech, and a weekly columnist for Columbia Journalism Review. Follow him on Twitter at @CraigSilverman.