Opinion | Journalism Is Broken and I Alone Can Fix It!

“The Grid is for people like you and me who follow the news but want something more. Many of us are overwhelmed with updates on relentless crises. Grid News Executive Editor Laura McGann wrote this week as the website launches: “The Flood prioritizes what’s new, not necessarily what is important.” Mentioning a preference for “important” over “new” hardly constitutes a breakaway idea. Likewise, Grid “360” approach to coverage—taking an interdisciplinary critique of a topic with many concurrent stories—hardly reinvents the wheel. Long stories And investigative series do that all the time.

The idea might catch on, but it reminds me of the original concept in Vox that was dividing stories into stackable, up-to-date “Vox cards” to serve as guides for ongoing news stories. Vox’s founding creed stated that “our mission has never been more vital than it is at the moment: Empowerment through Understanding” but two years later, Vox Cards died.

Puck News’s mission statement from last September played an obvious role in opening it in September to readers. Editor-in-chief John Kelly wrote, “We wanted to create a brand that focused on the inside conversation – the story behind the story, the details, and the plot that only real insiders know.” Isn’t getting the story inside the goal of every aspiring writer and editor? If it’s a given, why should the editor yell and yell about it being your destination?

If declaring what is self-evident is a crime, then Justin Smith and Ben Smith – who are not yet named a world news organization that has just entered startup mode – should be sentenced and immediately imprisoned. Dissident writer Albert Bornico rightly mocked Smith and Smith for their plans to target their new operation at the 200 million college-educated English speakers on the planet who they believe are deprived of current journalism. You can prove that 200 million people are underserved, Bornico notes, but only if you ignore the output The New York Times, the Washington Post, the The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic, the New YorkerAnd New York magazine, Harper’sAnd time, the National review, the New RepublicInsider, The Intercept, ProPublica, The Columbia Journalism Review, Vanity FairAnd Mother Jonesfederal his momAnd Jacobin, the Washington Examiner, the hillAnd a reasonBloomberg and The Daily Beast.

While no one should underestimate Smith and Smith, and everyone should praise their promise to invent something new, neither of them communicated what form it would take other than that it would be awesome. In an internal memo fumigated by Sarah Fisher of Axios, Justin Smith claimed that “existing news organizations” were “unequipped to change direction”. An immersion in the catastrophe that many new media take delight in – remember when Jim VandeHei founded Axios, broken — and often a scam”? — Smith writes that the news industry has been in tatters. In the face of technological and societal turmoil over the past two decades, traditional editorial institutions have almost become paralyzed Practically, politically and culturally. [emphasis added in both quotations].

broken? paralyzed? Yes, most dailies have been in decline for decades and few are achieving the 30 percent margins they were making before the competitive power of the Internet burned them down. But it would be an exaggeration to declare that traditional institutions are faltering. No The New York Times Save yourself from doom thanks to the revenue of standard subscriptions? Act times Just don’t pay $500 million to Athletic? Didn’t Ringer just go for $200 million? Didn’t Axel Springer buy Insider parts she didn’t already own for $343 million in 2015 and POLITICO the other day for $1 billion? The sale prices in themselves do not prove that the press is not as broken as Nader insists, but they do testify to a kind of journalistic vibe. Readers, many of whom are willing to pay for what they consume, want what these outlets are pumping about, whether it’s sprawling investigative articles or succinct morning newsletters.

So, if the current press landscape is so failed, why are so many competitors rushing to compete with the incumbents? Obviously, because newcomers see that they can make money and build lasting businesses – or sell them at a profit. The press landscape has always been fluid, with old giants giving way to new hopefuls. It stands to reason that beginners, many of whom are on their way to becoming a new media organization, will adopt the PR logic that old is bad and new is great because of course they are new. It also makes sense that they will embrace many of the wrinkles they criticized in their foundational statements when they succeed. POLITICO’s founding statement from 2007 promised, “We wouldn’t normally chase today’s story,” a statement that quickly became ineffective.

Not every startup prides itself on reshaping the world of journalism. The crew at Punchbowl News were under-promised and over-delivered with this humble mission statement a year ago: “We will focus relentlessly on the people in Washington who make the decisions, and on the news and events that will move political markets.” Upon launching Airmail in 2019, Graydon Carter promised what people would think. “Our goal is to bring you a fun, entertaining, and serious weekend edition as well, delivered to your inbox every Saturday morning at 6:00 New York time,” Carter wrote. “We aim to surprise you.” Who are his potential readers? “They’re going to be a sophisticated person. They’re not backpackers, and they’re not in Las Vegas, drinking champagne and sitting in a heart-shaped bathtub.” The New York Times.

What do news founders have to stand for greatness? profits in The New York Times Not so big that anyone would invest the kind of money needed to remove it. When pitching to investors, founders feel compelled to exaggerate the novelty of their potential startups, making up the most exaggerated headlines for their children’s birth announcements. Often, it seems, the founder is still drunk on his own skill when presenting his publication to his readers.


The original emblem of the era of Adolph Ochs The New York Times It “would not stain the breakfast cloth.” He later changed it to “All print-friendly news”. Send your mission statement to [email protected]. My email alerts are off, oh my Twitter Paralyzed, but my RSS feed is fully functional.

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