The Future Of Journalism Doesn't Have A Head Office
from the and-it's-way-bigger-than-HuffPo dept
Globe and Mail columnist Simon Houpt is unsure about the future of journalism. For a recent piece, he visited the offices of Huffington Post Canada and raised questions about the publication's approach to news curation and reporting. A lot of the usual HuffPo topics are dicussed (is aggregation theft? Is it wrong to not pay bloggers?) but there's one statement right at the beginning that I want to address:
The future of journalism looks like an ad agency.
This is what you think when you walk into the downtown Toronto offices of the Huffington Post’s Canadian operation, which it shares with its corporate parent, AOL Canada Inc. You probably don’t even need a description to imagine the scene, but here goes: Airy, two-storey, loft-like playpen on Spadina Avenue. Exposed brick. Rows of young folk in checkered flannel shirts staring intently into oversized monitors. A pair of electric guitars hanging above the boss’s desk, which sits invitingly in the corner rather than hiding away in a separate office.
For one thing, I'm not sure what's so scary about newsrooms becoming more open, accessible and friendly—to me, that doesn't immediately say "ad agency". But much more importantly, the Huffington Post is not the head office of modern journalism.
HuffPo is one brand, one network—a widespread and highly successful one to be sure, but just one piece of the puzzle. The simple fact is, there is no one hub of modern journalism. In fact, one of the biggest defining characteristics of journalism in the digital era is a movement away from centralization, with quality content coming from a huge array of sources both big and small.
It's old-world thinking that leads people to seek a single organization they can look to as an example of what journalism is becoming, and that prevents them from seeing the real change: the future of journalism doesn't have a head office, and it's not defined by what the Huffington Post is doing.