Like so many people in journalism, I spend a lot of time pondering, talking about, and trying to prepare myself for what the future of this profession might be. And next month I’m going to be speaking on a panel at the Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism called “Making the Most of Turbulent Times: Finding Opportunities in a Changing Industry,” that seeks to add to the conversation on this subject.
In preparation for that panel, Tommy Tomlinson, the moderator, sent out an email to get us all thinking.
I put together something a few days ago in response to his prompt and while it’s fairly unbaked, writing it made me feel a bit hopeful — both about the panel and about the future of journalism. Here’s what I wrote:
I think there are opportunities, and I agree with Mara (Schiavocampo, one of my fellow panelists) that many of them are in the freelance realm. If you are looking for a job where someone will take care of the economics while you take care of the journalism, you will be disappointed. So I think we’ll be seeing more people working to build their business skills (as CEOs of their own mini journalism businesses) in addition to working on their storytelling and reporting skills. It will be very hard for those who are really not inclined to find “sponsors” for their work, but journos aren’t the only ones facing this transitions. Talk to artists and they deal with the same conflict.
I’m also interested in new kinds of support systems that will sprout up to meet the needs of an ever expanding group of independent journalists. Imagine the kinds of tools all these freelancers will need — continuing education and training, technology, research services, new models of syndication. These areas present great opportunities to entrepreneurs and perhaps employment opportunities for reinventing journalists.
I have a whole month to percolate ideas on this and would love to hear if anyone has any thoughts in reaction to this. Am I nuts? Is anyone seeing any interesting opportunities that I should be sharing with the audience?
And by all means, come to the conference if you care, worry or wonder about the future of quality journalism. Though this is my first time going as a speaker, I’ve been to the conference several times before and it is always one of the big learning moments of my year.