10 good links about journalism’s past, present and future

There’s no intentional attempt at symmetry here, but in my Delicious collection I’ve noticed an almost equal number of journalism-related links lately that either 1) weep for the state of newspapers and cross their fingers at how they might survive, or 2) say goodbye to all that and march defiantly into the future.

Perhaps it sums up some of the conflicting feelings I have for my craft, although I largely come down on the side of the latter. Thought I’d share these links here, and offer some comments as a full calendar year outside the confines of a newsroom comes to a close for me.

If I sound a bit too sardonic, my apologies. While I’ve shed most of my mournfulness about what’s happened to newspapers, I think helps to be mindful of what’s being lost. Building something better is impossible without that understanding.

Looking back, and hoping:

Twilight of the American newspaper (Harper’s) — I’ve been wanting to cut down on linking to obituaries like this one. But journalist and PBS NewsHour contributor Richard Rodriguez’ elegy for the San Francisco Chronicle he grew up reading is well-written and laced with the kind of emotion that only a devoted reader can summon. There’s some terrific history here of that city’s papers and what they meant for the generations who read them.

The print catharsis will continue in 2010, so it’s only proper to mourn, at least for a short while, whether you agree with Rodriguez or not:

“We will end up with one and a half cities in America — Washington, D.C., and American Idol. We will all live in Washington, D.C., where the conversation is a droning, never advancing, debate between ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals.’ We will not read about newlyweds. We will not read about the death of salesmen. We will not read about prize Holsteins or new novels. We are a nation dismantling the structures of intellectual property and all critical apparatus. We are without professional book reviewers and art critics and essays about what it might mean that our local newspaper has died.”

(via Doug Fisher)

What Are You Willing to Give Up from Journalism? (Time, via Mich Sineath) — James Poniewozik asks newspaper readers — as if they haven’t sacrificed enough — what else they wouldn’t mind doing without as newsroom staffs get smaller.

• When Will a Web Editor Lead a Major Newsroom? (the soon-to-be-shuttered Editor & Publisher, ironically enough) — I believe this is a rhetorical question.

• Putting bite back in newspapers (Reflections of a Newsosaur) — More salient advice for traditional journalists that will go unheeded in neutered newsrooms.

• On leaving the newsroom (Tina Kelly Poetry) — A departing New York Times staffer reflects about being part of a journalistic tribe that has had “an honored front row seat in life.” Indeed.

Moving on, and looking forward:

• With or without publishers, local online continues to grow: (Journalism 2.0) — “If you’re a forward-thinker and an optimist, it’s exciting.” Some of us are, but far too many are not.

• Next year’s news about the news: What we’ll be fighting about in 2010 (Nieman Journalism Lab) — How about dispensing with the phrase “news ecosystem” for starters?

• 8 Must-Have Traits of Tomorrow’s Journalist (Mashable) — Business and entrepreneurial skills, above all, for fairly obvious reasons.

10 tips for would-be online journalism entrepreneurs (news: rewired) — “Don’t assume anything you do will be unique.” The key to all the others.

The future is nearer than you think (Xark) — “While I wish the future’s self-employed small-business journalists well, here’s a warning: Watch out for that next wave of disruptive development, because it’s likely to wash your job — and your mortgage — out to sea.”

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