Oct 28, 2008

Monitor This

The Christian Science Monitor, a venerable national daily, will move its operations exclusively online next April. I think it's only a matter of time before the rest of the newsprint-and-paper dinosaurs go this way. Pace Leonard Jacobs, I don't think such moves signal the journalism's death rattle. There is inarguably an economic shakeout going on, and most of us have been hanging on to this racket by our teeth, if at all.

But, as the tireless Andrew Sullivan points out, even as the Web threatens the economic model of publishing as we know it, it may in fact end up saving and/or rejuvenating journalism and its audience:
In fact, for all the intense gloom surrounding the newspaper and magazine business, this is actually a golden era for journalism. The blogosphere has added a whole new idiom to the act of writing and has introduced an entirely new generation to nonfiction. It has enabled writers to write out loud in ways never seen or understood before. And yet it has exposed a hunger and need for traditional writing that, in the age of television’s dominance, had seemed on the wane.

Words, of all sorts, have never seemed so now.


Leonard Jacobs said...

I think it's very easy for you to be optimistic, Rob. Perhaps a little too easy, quite frankly.

Rob Weinert-Kendt said...

Leonard, what optimism I have is pretty hard-earned and fragile. I haven't had a full-time job in publishing for five years, and I've spent most of those years freelancing and seriously freaked out about my future in journalism. The last two years at TDF have been great, but this is by no means a journalism job.

So yes, I'm on the precipice there with the rest of us. I just think there's no point in denying that print is dead and the future is online, and that in terms of readership and interest, the future looks relatively bright. Figuring out how to get paid to do this thing we do is always the problem--I've watched friends routinely flee journalism for greener pastures since I began doing this--but I do have some vestige of faith that reaching newly energized readers in these new ways will continue to be worth something. You've always advocated that arts critics should try out being arts practitioners--well, sometimes this scary new marketplace feels a lot closer to their (undervalued) world. The solutions for us, as for them, include advocacy, collegiality, entreprenuership, and keeping the faith.