Sunday, March 15, 2009

Learning from history: Saving journalism, not newspapers

As part of this essay, Clay Shirky goes back to Gutenberg to analyze what happens in a communication revolution: Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable.

Among his conclusions:
"Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.
"When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society’, the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work."

There's a lot more in his essay, which I'm going to assign to media history students and to students looking for journalism careers.

Who's Clay? See his home page

Footnote: I had a sense of deja vu after writing that headline... See Saving journalism may not mean saving newspapers from December 2004.

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