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Time’s now (or soon) to draw lines in the journalism sand

February 16, 2010

Like the bloated cast of characters on the final season of Lost, news organizations have been taking sides lately and I can’t help but sense an air of finality about it all. Most of what I’m talking about revolves around news orgs crafting social media policies or making decisions about paywalls—by doing these things, they’re saying This is who we are.

There’s plenty sense in sitting back for a while and watching the pieces fall into place, getting a feel for what really works (especially with regard to paywalls), but the people who are making decisions now are the gutsy ones. The ones who are defining themselves are making history and in 10 years we’ll look back and say: These people/this newsbrand is why owning your own domain is a prerequisite to graduating from journalism school.

Anyway, here’s to the gutsy ones (whether I agree with them or not):

This isn’t just a kind of fad from someone who’s an enthusiast of technology. I’m afraid you’re not doing your job if you can’t do those things. It’s not discretionary. –Peter Horrocks, BBC Global News’ new director, talking about social media to his employees.

Quality journalism is not cheap…. The digital revolution has opened many new and inexpensive distribution channels but it has not made content free. We intend to charge for all our news websites. –Rupert Murdoch

This announcement allows us to begin the thought process that’s going to answer so many of the questions that we all care about…. We can’t get this halfway right or three-quarters of the way right. We have to get this really, really right. –Arthur Sulzberger Jr., The New York Times Company chairman, on The Times’ decision to charge for news in 2011.

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