Has all the dire talk about the fate of the media reached a crescendo? Somehow, amidst all the doom and gloom scenarios about the death of traditional journalism in the wake of declining prospects for newspapers, some media insiders are starting to send a more positive message. Along with the potential silver lining, of course, its been a really rough time for the media recently and there are still no clear answers about how things will shake out.
"This is a unique journalistic moment," explained former White House speech author and columnist Peggy Noonan, at an event in Manhattan last week, noting that we are in a distinct period of transition "from old media days to new media days."
Tina Brown, editor of new site, The Daily Beast, agreed that this is a time of transition. "Its a frightening, scary and disheartening time," she noted, but added optimistically that solid journalism will not die. "I think you will find ways for investigative journalism to go online," through partnerships, or perhaps new fundraising models to support reporting.
"At the end of this period of shakedown," Brown, a former editor of The New Yorker, explained, "you will end up with better journalism than you've had in the past twenty years."
The positive spin came at an event last week aimed at hyping the IFC's second season of its IFC Media Project. "IFC wants to make media matter," explained network head Evan Shapiro, during the Paley Center lunch and panel discussion that also included former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, BBC reporter Katty Kay, and author Josh Rushing.
Hosted by Gideon Yago, who moderated the discussion at The Paley Center, the show will air its second episode this Sunday night, continuing for its weekly episodes. Created and produced by Meagan O'Hara ("Sicko," "Fahrenheit 9/11"), the show takes a critical look at the media during a key moment of transition for traditional journalism. And, it essentially argues that there is no more crucial a time than now for media literacy.
Yago and IFC hosted a similar event last year when the IFC Media Project kicked off. "My goal in this series," Gideon Yago noted in the first episode of season one, "Is to give a sobering wake-up call to anyone who takes the media at face value."
During the New York City conversation last week, Yago wondered aloud about the tangible ways that media is changing. Columnists are replacing journalists as the stars of news outlets, especially on cable news show. He contemplated the, "rise of the commnetary class and the death of the journalist class" and asked how, "that media environment shape who we are as a country?"
Similarly, upcoming IFC Media Project episodes examine the current White House press corps in the new Obama administration, look at how media agendas are challenged in business and political covearge and also consider the state of the media in the current economic climate.
"I take the long view," offered former spokesperson Ari Fleischer, a member of the aformentioned "commentary class." "We are better for it because we can read so many different sources."
[Journalism] is not going to die," Tina Brown added separately, "It's just in transition."