I love the immediacy of online interaction. Someone says something brilliant and people react and retweet right away. Someone says something stupid and the mockery starts instantly.
But sometimes reflection is the better path.
In the November-December issue of Columbia Journalism Review, Dean Starkman launched a lengthy, rambling rant about what he derided as the “future-of-news (FON) consensus.” Essentially (and I overstate only slightly), Starkman proposes a future of returning somehow to the days of Ida Tarbell.
Only mildly miffed that he didn’t include me along with the five people he named as most prominent in leading the quest for a digital future for news, I replied immediately with what I thought was a strong response. I concentrated mostly on making the dual points that investigative journalism most certainly is part of the future the FON gang is working to build and that nostalgists such as Starkman always make the past seem rosier than it was. (Yeah, Ida Tarbell was a great muckraker, but the old business model also supported a lot of bad and mediocre journalism, too.) I dropped what I was doing and cranked out my response Nov. 8, the same day Starkman’s piece was posted online (or at least the day I learned of it).
Looking back on the piece I wrote, I’m still pleased with it, and I made some good points. But Emily Bell (who definitely should have been on Starkman’s FON list) took a day to respond and her piece was more thoughtful and reflective than mine. I encourage you to read it at the link above, but a few highlights: (more…)