Saturday, February 7, 2009

That discussion at Harvard is winding down...

Martin Langeveld did a great post called A cafe shaped conversation nicely summing up what we learned. Here's the lede. Click to read to rest.

A great conversation has been going on at my previous post, with participants including:

  • A musician/entrepreneur who runs a hyperlocal social network in Fort Dodge, Iowa
  • A mountaineer/futurist who speaks and consults globally on new media matters
  • A newspaper editor in Waco, Texas
  • The president and publisher of “the most widely-read magazine in America” (a 32-million circulation newspaper supplement), based in New York City
  • The CEO of a Alabama newspaper holding company operating in 150 communities
  • An arts reporter/blogger in East Bay, California
  • A New York print evangelist/entrepreneur/educator
  • A Rhode Island consultant specializing in brands, organizational communications and enterprise technology design
  • Plus, yours truly, tucked away in snowy Vermont, and some of his fellow Nieman bloggers located at Harvard and Johns Hopkins
It was as if we all bumped into each other at a sidewalk café and started knocking around the problems of printed newspapers and journalism on the internet
As the meeting was winding down and each us returned to go back to either our day jobs or painting the bedroom or whatever each of us does in their private lives, this happened.

He ( not Martin Langeveld) said:
All of you (some more than others) are whistling past the graveyard.
If any newspaper model survives (and I have my doubts), it will be the early 20th century one featuring digital tabloids sold on cyberspace street corners, produced by aggressive entrepreneurs.
Because such a model begins with the interests of prospective readers and not with the concerns of self-important editors, “college-trained” reporters and contest-driven egoists, who now dominate our profession.
A little later:
I thought we might have a worldview somewhat in common. (I am a 69-year-old retired newspaper columnist.)
Somebody should hire us to fix this mess.
Then I said:
The downside is that we would have to come out of retirement. Have a boss or a client. And not have enough time to play with the grand kids. I say we already did our job. Let this generation do theirs.

If we can help, we’ll help. Maybe make a little cash on the side to keep the stress level down.


  1. Just to clarify, Michael, those "he said" comments were not from me but from R. F. Stinson. I didn't include him in the cast of characters because I didn't known anything else about him, but now that we do, let's tack onto the list "a retired newspaper columnist".

  2. Thank you. I made a change. Not elegant but I think it does what it has to do. Just goes to show that everyone can use an editor.