thriving, despite Internet, journalists say
by Bitty Reilly
south news editor
years from now, journalists do not know how people will get their news,
Bob Schieffer, noted CBS newsman, said to introduce a symposium on The Changing
Jill Abramson, Len Downie Jr., Larry Kramer and Judy Woodruff of the mainstream
press participated in the symposium April 5 at Texas Christian University.
moderated while he and the panelists spoke on some of the problems facing
journalism, including its future.
panel addressed the question of whether or not newspapers will exist in
managing editor of The New York Times previously worked for The Wall Street
I think there will be newspapers. But I think the important word in the
newspapers is the news,” she said. “Journalism
of fact, rather than the journalism of assertion, and smart journalism
[are important]. People love the physical paper still and love the serendipity
of discovery in articles you weren’t searching for but you just find and
said some younger readers who want the Internet and other readers are interested
in television documentaries.
[The Journal does] podcast, video on the Web and international coverage,”
she said. “We want to deliver quality news any way our audience wants it.”
said companies historically involved with newspapers are now growing, braving
the new media forms and conquering the current multi-platform journalism
We will always need professional journalists who know how to operate who
have tested standards,” she said, “journalists who are so dedicated they
are sleeping in their cars.”
executive editor of The Washington Post, said his newspaper incorporated
a new method of getting the information out to its audience. A Washington
Post-owned radio station runs a program 5:30 a.m.-7 p.m. with reporters
talking about the stories they are writing.
Instead of giving the news rapid fire like all the stations do, we are
providing longer format,” he said. “We have a lot of experts on our staff,
and they know important things. They know all about science or the Pentagon
or the war in Iraq, and that is a commodity we have that people are still
said an average Washington Post reporter now could be taking pictures,
filming video for the Web site, writing stories and doing the radio show.
When the Post began the program, reporters worried they would work all the
time, but they realized there was not more work because they already had
the information, Downie said.
began as a reporter 20 years ago and now is president of CBS Digital Media
and founder of MarketWatch.com.
The change [in journalism] is in the story-telling process,” he said. “Technology
has allowed us to bring all the tools of storytelling into one medium.”
said putting stories on the Web poses new benefits and raises the standards
The expectation is that our stories are correct,” he said. “When you put
out a newspaper, people know that things change. We learn more as a story
progresses, but that’s the best [the paper] had at that time. On the Web,
‘that time’ is when someone is reading.”
responses and story monitors change the value of the story and can provide
new insight to topics that hold the audience’s interest, Kramer said.
You write something on the Web that causes a reaction and you’ll have 500
e-mails by the time you get back to your desk,” he said. “ So you have
to be careful.”
most important issue with the new formats depending less on classified
ads and advertising, Kramer said, is that those who read it, pay for it and
support the news.
We have a symbiotic relationship with Bloggers. They usually get their
news by quoting mainstream news organizations,” he said. “When Matt Drudge
quotes the Washington Post articles, he brings more readers to the Washington
Post site and he becomes a source.”
a political spokeswoman soon to premiere “Generation Next: Speak Up. Be
Heard” for the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, said the advancements from newspaper
to radio to television to Internet sent the journalism field into an explosion
of new format, and connoisseurs can respond to the information.
I think we are going through a time unlike any I have seen in my 31 years,”
she said. “The whole revolution of fact-based news verses opinion-based
news is embarrassing. Along with the 24-hour news, we found [news] wasn’t
enough. We had to find a way to make the news not only important but entertaining.
We are dealing with this, and it is sudden.
Yes, there is going to be Internet. But we are always going to need reporters,
and we have to figure out how to pay them.”
said she worries how the news industry will continue to support great journalism
if the premium is on short pieces spread across many different platforms.
is an issue in objectivity, Woodruff said.
Shoe leather journalists are a mixed bag of views,” she said. “Many are
liberal, but there are those who have conservative views.”
said everyone is familiar with rumors. A tradition in journalism, he said,
is for a news outlet to try to correct a mistake it makes and to ignore
one made by a competitor giving the organization time to “get it right.”
used Sept. 11 and the events that followed to describe what can happen
in the news.
We found most of what we did was tracking down and correcting rumors that
would emerge on the Internet,” he said. “We had to do this because, had
we not, we ran the risk of creating mass hysteria in the panic.”
said they knew there were no airplanes in the sky, but when the Internet
reported a plane heading for the Sears Tower, the network repeatedly ran
the same piece to knock down the rumors.
The Internet is the first vehicle that can transmit news, nationally and
around the world, without an editor,” he said. “You don’t know where this
stuff comes from. Blogging worries me.”
said he questions the impact on culture from missing stories people would
normally chance upon when reading a newspaper.
of the great pleasures of reading the newspaper is that you do run across
things that you weren’t looking for,” he said. “I wonder if we are limiting
ourselves with the new information-gathering techniques. You get on the
Internet and Google it and just that information pops up.”
Bolen, faculty senior advisor to the TCU Chancellor, said his only regret
about the presentation was that more people did not hear it.
Some people don’t understand what the world is going to be like tomorrow,”
he said. “I still love to read the papers every morning, but I do think
the format is going to change.”
The downside of having all this information available is how to get enough
time to look at it all, and you have to be selective,” he said.
said this change could make a lot of people miss the experience to learn,
and it could affect the amount of information the younger generation is
willing to consume.
Vroman, a TCU political science major, said she does not worry about the
demise of the newspaper format.
There will always be a newspaper out there, even if the popularity declines,”
she said. “There will always be the option to read the newspaper.”