For a community in which the invention of coloring technology is as critical as the printing press, the media—new and old— are strangely viewing the gatekeeper debate in black and white.
Here’s the gray, and fuchsia, and Technicolor film:
Professional and participatory media can thrive together; imagine, mainstream and grassroots, harmonizing. Actually, they must if the art of news is to realize its highest form: accessible, timely, relevant information that adheres to the journalistic standards of balance, truth and integrity.
We’ll get there, eventually, although it could possibly be much sooner if blogger and newspaper advocates would spend less energy trying to block one another’s entrance into press conferences.
One constructive debate to launch would be Daniel Conover’s thoughts on the conundrum of 21st Century journalism. He humbly offers up for discussion possible solutions to the obstacles faced in building bridges across the print v. on-line rift. He addresses the heart of the matter with about 25 points, such as open sources, intelligence briefing models, curating information, accepting profit margin declines, and more. Brilliant.
Washington Post staff writer, Jose Antonio Vargas, in his November 2007 story Storming the News Gatekeepers, illustrates beautifully the distraction caused by the resistance on all fronts.
Why couldn’t the flood gates be flung wide open for anyone to plunge into the collective knowledge of the human race? How would that make the professional journalist’s job obsolete? If anything, it would enrich the quality, purpose and importance of her craft. She would then siphon the information into niche tributaries, much as she always has, but with improved resources.
Michael Karlberg writes about this adversarial culture of contest in his book Beyond the Culture of Contest: From Adversarialism to Mutualism in an Age of Interdependence. The future, Karlberg predicts, is moving towards cooperation. Vargas highlighted a glimmer of this bright future in his story:
“High school and college students are writing for Scoop08, where relatively experienced student journalists are guiding inexperienced student CJs (citizen journalists). “This is the future of journalism, I think: journalists working with citizen journalists,” says Scoop’s co-founder, 18-year-old Alexander Heffner. “