One of my biggest complaints about the way some old school journalism folks view "the news business," is that they still have trouble recognizing they're in the community business. They're so focused on delivering the "news," they forget the bigger issue. The news business has always
been a community business. It was a way of bringing together a community of people with something in common (usually locality), and then selling their attention to advertisers. The big problem facing the industry today is that there are many more ways for communities to form. They used to be one of the few games in town. These days, however, there are many, many more places for communities -- and most of them treat the communities much better, and provide a lot more value. And yet, too often we hear newspaper folks talk down to and insult the idea that they should ever be expected to actually rub virtual shoulders with their community. They don't like using comments. They don't want to talk to fans or critics alike. They just want to report the news and move on.
Obviously, there are many, many exceptions to this. And the number of exceptions are growing and that's a good thing, because eventually they won't be exceptions at all. For now, though, it's nice to highlight stories of journalists recognizing the importance of actually communicating with their community. Pickle Monger
points us to a piece by a long-time BBC reporter, Paul Reynolds, talking about his experience embracing the community
rather than shunning it, and recognizing that this involvement of the public really is "the future of news." He admits it wasn't always pleasant
, and it did require establishing something of a thick skin, but he seems to feel that it's worth it.