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Saving Journalism: from Obama to Pincus

Saving Journalism: from Obama to Pincus

President Barack Obama, at the end of his funny, barbed and self-mocking White House Correspondents speech, graciously thanked the assembled press corps for doing their jobs –even when he disagreed with them–and recognized that their profession was under duress. He wished them well as they reinvent journalism.

BusinessWeek writer Sarah Lacy, at the behest of Tech Crunch’s Michael Arrington, has written a modest proposal for how the business weeklies can save themselves. While she obviously gets the reality of the situation, I am not sure the powers that be at these organizations will be willing to see it her way. I agree that her solution would work. And the same basic principles could apply to many other mags.

At lunch last week, one studio marketing exec and I were puzzling over Time, Newsweek and EW. And as I ponder my own future, I am aware that writing for print gave me not only an editor and a deadline that forced me to focus serious time on a column, but gravitas as well. The blog just isn’t the same. When it’s in print, it means more. To everyone. Said studio marketer doesn’t mind Patrick Goldstein’s daily rantings online. It’s when they wind up in print in the LAT that she gets upset. Is this attitude? Habit? The fact that holding something tangible in your hand makes it more important? Print still does have an advantage (along with serious advertising dollars), if folks can only figure out how to make it dovetail economically with the faster online world.

People take many blogs and online publications seriously, from The Daily Beast (where editors and deadlines still apply) to WSJ.com, where you can find Kara Swisher’s All Things Digital blog. She recently interviewed Sharon Waxman, whose online pub The Wrap is trying to compete inside the trade space. Waxman asserted at a recent Fest of Books panel that the trades “never break a story” and “there’s no place to go for the essential information you need if you are in the business of TV and movies.” Really? She waxes on:

Meanwhile The Washington Post‘s Walter Pincus, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, suggests that newspaper reporters and editors have been chasing the wrong goals, fame and glory, instead of serving their readers.

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