From Flickr user Andyi
It’s Carnival of Journalism time and Ryan Sholin steps up to the plate to host. He helpfully suggests a question to chew over for this months meeting of j-minds
What should news organizations stop doing, today, immediately, to make more time for innovation?
A lot of people have already posted great suggestions so some of the following may be repetitive (still it’s better to add a voice then stay quiet in agreement isn’t it)
So, the question. What should they stop doing? My answer: Stop trying to own everything.
We have an interesting problem in journalism at the moment, we don’t know who we are. Ask anyone in your newsroom what the function of journalism is, what is it for, and you get a number of different answers. (I know, we have tried) All of them are challenging or challenged by the ‘new’ media landscape.
You may answer, we are the fourth estate, we tell the audience what other people don’t want them to know. But a new media advocate may say that the audience can do that for themselves now, and (often) better.
You may answer that it is to entertain. That’s a great one for upsetting ‘trad’ journalists. Remember sonny, this job isn’t about fun.
For every defining action there is an equal and opposite old media reaction.
So given that we aren’t sure what we are or why we do what we do anymore, we revert to what we know best. Consolidate and protect. We strengthen the fortifications and move as much of the ‘community’ in to the city walls as we can.This isn’t just illustrated in attitudes. You can see the very real evidence of this all around us in the industry.
If a news org wants to do user generated photography it doesn’t use flickr or Photobucket. It builds it’s own photo sharing service. If it wants to run a blog, does it use Movable Type of WordPress. No, it builds its own blogging platform.
Why? Because then they can own the conversation.
This ownership thing, it must happen on our terms, is the single biggest problem the industry has right now and that stops innovation.
When it comes to technology, ownership encourages imitation and stifles innovation. When it comes to staff, ownership means the structures are there to support the company not the individual. They pay to own the innovators and then stop them innovating (hey, at least they aren’t innovating for anyone else). And when it comes to audience, ownership means taking and never giving.
So what do we do about it.
I think the first thing we can do is look at the ownership mindset. We need to try and educate people to a couple of simple points:
Ownership and control are not the same thing. You can be seen as owning something but not have control. That can be positive or negative.
Ownership is temporary: You’ve all heard the term no one owns the news. That’s been interpreted as meaning that we need to monitise it in a way that makes the maximum amount of profit in the shortest time. No. It actually means you need to keep turning out stuff that people want to see and so keep coming back.
Within the news rooms we can do one simple thing: Give away the one thing that you do own – time.
Give everyone in the newsroom playtime. I’ve said this again and again and other organisations like Google have so obviously benefited from it. Give every member of your newsroom staff a day a month (maybe) where they can explore, learn and develop skills. That doesn’t need to be on the web. It could be learning photography. Learning to dance at a local community center. It doesn’t matter. The key thing is that you only expect one in return – they share that experience. There is no budget line. If you get a story from it – bonus. If a great idea comes out then even better. But everyone shares.
If you asked me what the function of journalism is I would say that its ‘to be part of the society we live in and contributing to a greater understanding of that society by sharing information.’
That’s not about owning
From Flickr user occ4m