Friday, March 20, 2009

Decisionmakers who ruined the newspaper industry should step aside; make room for honest, innovative and younger journalists with ideas

The assistant managing editor for The New York Times was asked a most pertinent question as to the survival of the newspaper industry.

And as most leaders in what used to be my industry(I officially quit writing newspaper columns earlier this month), he answered arrogantly and blindly.

Here is how Romenesko on the Poynter site reported it:

Young journo to NYTer: When will your generation quit and let my generation try our ideas?

"The people who sank the ship, namely those of the baby-boomer, Woodward-and-Bernstein era, are still at the helm, and giving up their lofty newsroom positions only with cold, dead hands," writes a young newspaperman. When will your generation quit? he asks Richard Berke.

Part of the Timesman's response:

You say you have ideas. So why not find your own way to pursue them?

Students I have met who are drawn to journalism are not just learning newspaper writing, they are also steeping themselves in writing for the web and learning to shoot video — and letting their versatility multiply their chances of finding an outlet.

Maybe I'm refusing to face reality, but I believe that if you're enterprising and talented enough, there are more opportunities than ever in the world of journalism. Not at the big dailies, perhaps, or traditional newspapers, but certainly on line.

Pity the future of The Times. How many more Mexican billionaires are left to bail its ass out? Berke is only concerned about keeping his job.

Gannett faces the same entrenchment problem. It put another Phil Currie disciple in the top news job at Corporate when he was finally forced out the door. How can it put the people who lacked the vision in the first place into such important jobs?

Gannett also is burdened with people such as Silverman at The Tennessean who are more about knocking people down than building them up. I'd be scared to bring a fresh idea to him.

The newspaper industry deserves its fate. I get all the news I need from the web and NPR. The consumer knows how to adjust, even if newspapers can't by leaving the same people at the helm.

Anyone in a newspaper position of authority over 40 should be asked to get ready to leave.

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