Tag Archives: digital media

Readings: Garrulous Luddites, hyperlocal hyperventilating, going viral and the joys of vinyl

Arts journalist Bill Wyman’s tough-minded series on Splice Today this week about “Why Newspapers Are Failing” leads off a weekend long-form reading list on topics related to journalism, the media and the Web.

In his first installment, Wyman takes his own profession to task for being too sentimental and naïve about the newspaper industry while ignoring the habits, assumptions and practices that have led to its steep decline:

“If the media doesn’t understand the issues that have actually put it into the precarious position it’s in, how can it survive?”

In the series finale Wyman — who for a while worked at my former newspaper as well as Salon and NPR — says newspaper journalists need to ditch their institutional timidity as well as the “garrulous Ludditism” that too many still hold dear:

“The attitude ate journalism away from the inside in two ways: It put journalists physically and psychologically out of touch with society and hampered its coverage; and it devolved into a head-in-the-sand response to the challenges facing the industry. . . . The truth is, newsroom staffs are permeated with fear of change and a discomfort with new technology.”

Wyman eviscerates newspaper Web sites, which he says serve their companies at the expense of readers, and offers up some suggestions for improvement that I really wonder will ever be followed:

“Serve the community. Don’t publish crap. Tell folks stuff they might not want to hear. Grow a pair.”

• Wyman isn’t the first to suggest that news organizations go “hyperlocal” as they reinvent themselves. Online journalism gurus have long been hailing this approach as a surefire way to replace what’s draining out of daily newspapers. But Fast Company’s Michael Gluckstadt casts a gimlet eye, because of previously failed advertising models as well as the constant evangelizing:

“The future of hyperlocal — according to the people who have studied, lived, and championed it — seems to be in convincing others that hyperlocal is the future.”

• But hyperlocal creators are carrying on in a myriad of ways, and in some cases are spreading their wings. The brand new San Diego News Network appreciates its citizen bloggers providing gratis contributions. But it’s wagering its success on paid professional journalists to provide substantive community reporting:

“Blogging is interesting, but it’s like whipped cream on apple pie. If you only had whipped cream, you’d get clogged arteries and drop dead.”

• Bill Wasik, author of a forthcoming book about “viral culture,” is at once excited about the frantic nature of Web opportunities for young creatives and wary of the fleeting drawbacks that can accompany them:

“Online, the audience can be yours right away, direct and unmediated — if you can figure out how to find it and, what’s harder, to keep it. . . . ‘Microcelebrity’ is now the rule, with respect not only to the size of one’s fan base but also to the duration of its love. Believe it or not, the Internet is a tougher town than New York; fewer people make it here, but no one there seems to make it for long.”

• Nick Carr has been discussing Wasik’s book, and particularly in the context of these music-on-demand times:

“The problem with the Web, as I see it, is that it imposes, with its imperialistic iron fist, the ‘ecstatic surfing’ behavior on everything and to the exclusion of other modes of experience (not just for how we listen to music, but for how we interact with all media once they’ve been digitized). . . .

“It’s the deep, attentive engagement that the Web is draining away, as we fill our iTunes library with tens of thousands of ‘tracks’ at little or no cost. What the Web tells us, over and over again, is that breadth destroys depth. Just hit Shuffle.”

• Alex Ross, the classical music critic of The New York Times, like Carr, is no Luddite. But he felt the same way after scarfing up some of the best digital offerings he could find on the Web:

“But these meandering journeys across the Internet soundscape can be taxing. The medium too easily generates anxiety in place of fulfillment, an addictive cycle of craving and malaise. No sooner has one experience begun than the thought of what else is out there intrudes. Putting on an old-fashioned disk and letting it play to the end restores a measure of sanity. This may explain why the archaic LP is enjoying an odd surge of popularity among younger listeners: it’s a modest rebellion against the tyranny of instant access.”

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Readings: On brawny work, memory and Google, social media misuse and serendipity-doo-dah

Lots of good long-form and think pieces about journalism, the media and the digital realm are served up here for your weekend reading. There’s plenty to choose from here, so enjoy:

But it feels like the first time: Slate’s Jack Shafer says the print-Web wars have nothing on the way the newspaper industry faced its first competitive threat, at a time when it was in much better health:

“Some print journalists and industry leaders claimed that radio content was inaccurate, skimpy, sensationalist, and trivial and that its practitioners were amateurs. When radio news was accurate, they asserted, it was either a bunch of headlines from a newspaper or a story directly pilfered from one. Does any of this sound familiar?”

AP’s copyright cluelessness: Erik Sherman at BNET lets the news collective have it over its threat to sue sites merely linking to its content. “Idiots” and “pinheads” are among his kinder epithets:

I’m not someone who buys into the whole ‘information wants to be free’ ethos. I make a living off my intellectual property of writing and have a lot of sympathy for print publications, where much of my work appears. However, you can’t run a business on how you wish the world operated. Instead, you must find a model that operates within reality. And that’s why the AP, and other media companies that long for the good old days, are doomed.”

Going down with the ship?: Ex-Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News reporter Michael Sokolove talks to Brian Tierney, publisher of both papers and who unapologetically defends the print-and-ink process:

“The Web efforts, they add something. I congratulate them. Let a thousand flowers bloom. But if somebody thinks in any short term, or even medium term, that the answers are those things, they’re kidding themselves. I know I sound like a heretic in that I won’t come out and say, ‘They’re the future.’ But they’re not. The brawny work is what we’re doing, and the brawny vehicle to carry it is the printed product.”

Murdoch’s big paywall gamble: Shane Richmond at The Daily Telegraph says the media mogul is serving up a big gift to his competitors, which include, er, The Daily Telegraph, although not in this particular sentence:

“This is a great opportunity for the Mirror, The Daily Star and, I suppose, producers of pictures of topless women, to hoover up those Sun readers who aren’t sure whether they want to pay.”

Drinking from a firehose: Danielle Maestretti at the Utne Reader is looking for a few good people who know how to help the masses navigate their way around the Web:

“All of this fretting over the death of reading might sound more genuine if it wasn’t usually articulated by and for people who’ve staked their lives and careers on traditional media models—authors, academics, journalists, publishers, and the like. More importantly, it’s often beside the point. The debate over how we read, perpetuated largely by media insiders, is starting to seem like little more than a distraction from the real problem: We have access to more information than ever, yet we do not know what to do with it. We are desperately information-illiterate.”

What was that again?: Librarian Emily Walshe isn’t exactly hand-wringing, and she isn’t the first to worry about how cognition is being altered because of the ease of the search engine:

“With so many of us slave to tin can memory, our human capacity for identification is jeopardized. Because when we commit things to mind, we become the authors of experience. When we choose to remember, we relate to our most fundamental resource and, in so doing, achieve a unique and perfect balance between representation and meaning.”

Commodify your Tweets: Before Twitter’s denial of service attack on Thursday, Jasmin Tragas did a Google search on a topic that’s been bugging her and came up with a question directed at novelist Rick Moody. It confirmed her suspicions about the exploitation of social media:

“Have we gotten to a point where the commodification of personality has become so overbearing that it’s impossible for us to separate self-promotion from expression?”

A very fine wine: Along those same lines, British freelancer David Lloyd takes a dim view of Web wine impresario Gary Vaynerchuk’s yammering about personal branding:

“The blogs I visit most aren’t written to be ‘monetised’. They’re written because their owners have something to say. Or they want to offer a service, or advice, or, maybe, they just want to write. And isn’t that where all the best sites originated anyway? Money might follow. It might not. Really, Gary, don’t sweat it.”

How many years of blogs? David Silversmith argues that given the 500-year head start by the printed word, it’s far too soon to determine the longevity of blogs. But he predicts they won’t be very egalitarian and could end up being dominated by blogging Darwinians. I think that’s already the case:

The world can’t support 184 million blogs. . . . The few, the mighty and the strong blogs will survive and thrive – but the age of blogging offering everybody a voice will fade away.”

(via Amy Vernon)

Serendipity-doo-dah: New York Times technology editor Damon Darlin ignited a firestorm over his assertion that the digital age isn’t good for information meandering:

Ah, the techies say, no worries. We have Facebook and Twitter, spewing a stream of suggestions about what to read, hear, see and do. . . . But that isn’t serendipity. It’s really group-think. Everything we need to know comes filtered and vetted. We are discovering what everyone else is learning, and usually from people we have selected because they share our tastes.”

Big Digerati Dog Steven Johnson got the logrolling going emphatically:

“Do these people actually use the Web?”

More pushback here and here. Even some of Darlin’s fans are scratching their heads. But he does have some defenders on this point.

And of course, there has to be some over-the-top snark for good measure.

I revel in all forms of serendipity, though I lean toward Darlin’s point that “group-think” could be a negative consequence of too much, or the wrong kind, of filtering. (What I compile here each Friday is a combination of serendipity and filtering by others, both in print and on the Web.)

During that testy interview with Der Spiegel last week, Chris Anderson admitted he really doesn’t do serendipity:

“I figure by the time something gets to me it’s been vetted by those I trust. So the stupid stuff that doesn’t matter is not going to get to me.”

Readings: Kindle debacle, eBooks, ‘peep culture’

I don’t own an Amazon Kindle or any other electronic reader, because I prefer to read books and other long-form news and magazine articles offline. So I was really struck by the Big Brother issues raised over disappearing offerings from the Kindle due to a long-anticipated battle over copyright complaints. Now a full torrent of Orwellian scenarios has been unleashed, decrying the apparent onset of virtual book banning, a loss of privacy and other concerns.

I don’t know what to make of these arguments given my generally upbeat take on the possibilities — and inevitability — of more widespread digital reading options. (By the way, Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” was among the books deleted.)

What may be a copyright dispute today could be an attempt at government overreach tomorrow. The implications of cloud computing — especially pertaining to banking, medical records and business documents — also need to be considered. So does the burgeoning debate over copyright and Google’s ambitious book digitizing project. These are very sobering prospects that can’t be easily dismissed by digital enthusiasts, even though I consider myself one of them.

A few weekend reading links on a topic that’s sure to accelerate:

Is digital book-banning in our future? Slate’s Jack Shafer thinks so, and he fears Amazon’s technical powers to delete books for any reason has been given the go-ahead. But it’s governmental as much as corporate authoritarianism that looms even larger:

“The difference between today’s Kindle deletions and yesteryear’s banning is that the earlier prohibitions weren’t perfectly enforceable. . . . Amazon deleted books that were already available in print, but in our paperless future—when all books exist as files on servers—courts would have the power to make works vanish completely.”

Is Jeff Bezos’ apology enough? Peter Kafka at AllThingsD is suspicious of the Amazon chief’s many mea culpa responses because there’s not much that can stop the Kindle masters from doing it again:

“Now all we need is for Amazon to promise that it won’t go into your Kindle and take away something you bought, ever again. But the e-commerce giant won’t say that. Instead, it’s left open a big, worrisome loophole that it refuses to close. Amazon says it won’t forcibly remove your content from your Kindle ‘in these circumstances.’ But it won’t say what circumstances would prompt it to take back product it’s sold. That’s dumb. And doubly so coming from Amazon, a company that succeeds in large part because of its well-deserved reputation for kick-ass customer service.”

Can Barnes & Noble top the Kindle? The book retailer on Monday unveiled an “ebookstore” of 700,000 available titles that can be read on multiple devices, including the iPhone. But it has its own limitations:

“The least attractive aspect of the Barnes and Noble e-book effort is its use of ‘digital rights management’ restrictions on most paid e-books. Although its DRM controls lack the strictness of the Kindle’s — you can theoretically loan or resell e-books, if you’re willing to give your credit card number to recipients — they still limit your reading to the software and devices that Barnes and Noble permits, not the ones you might like. . . .

“In its insistence on DRM — not to mention its spotty selection, questionable pricing and glitchy software — Barnes and Noble’s e-book venture resembles nothing so much as the early, awkward attempts of record labels and the current, awkward attempts of movie studios to set up digital storefronts. . . .

“Those parallels don’t bode well for the future of the electronic book. If we’re going to have to watch publishers and stores repeat all the mistakes of the music and movie industries, it’s going to be a long few years in the e-book business.”

Why we can’t stop watching: Salon’s Amanda Fortini interviews author Hal Niedzviecki, who while doing research for his book “Peep Culture” tried a novel social media experiment that failed abysmally. Of the hundreds of his Facebook “friends” invited to a party at his home, only one bothered to show up. (Note to Hal: This sort of thing happens with “real” friends too.)

But Niedzviecki’s particularly galled by what he sees as a fiercely amoral and fleeting strain of voyeurism, the byproduct of an Internet age with its roots in television culture:

“You feel the right to watch this: ‘Look at this terrible thing.’ This is a deep question of our society now. We just saw an example of it with the whole situation in Iran, where for a couple of days everyone was watching this video of this poor young woman being shot, and there was this horrible close-up of her eyes rolling in the back of her head, blood everywhere, and then she passes. We have to ask ourselves, what is the value of this footage? Just as we ask ourselves, what is the value of surveillance camera footage that captures a horrific accident or a terrible crime? To what extent are we watching this from a place of moral indignation and to what extent are we watching this from a place of ‘Did you see that sick stuff?!’ prurient excitement. And you can do both at the same time, but at the end of the day I think we’re seeing much more pseudo-morality than we are seeing real concern. As soon as Michael Jackson died everyone seemed to forget about the poor Iranian girl.”

Are we united in our digital isolation? The headline, inverted a bit here, is meant to provoke, but Emily Popek of Pop Matters is adamant that the on-demand nature of the Web is creating a hyper-niche life that’s not entirely healthy. Not a new argument, of course, but an interesting twist on it:

“We can only hope that we can learn to balance this push and pull on our attention span, and somehow remain open to the occasional happy accident, should it occur. If we do not — if we continue to carve out increasingly smaller and more-specialized and predictable cultural niches for ourselves — we may find that we lose more than we gain.”

Like Niedzviecki, Popek’s got some worthwhile things to say. But as with the digital evangelists, there’s too much of a tendency to paint these issues in a good/bad framework. The positive, beneficial uses of the Web that I’ve enjoyed for the last 15 years have become even more plentiful as the Internet has matured. The Web is whatever you want to make of it; it requires you to do a little bit of work, unlike passive television, which I grew up with.

It also implies that you use your own discretion and decide when enough time on and obsession with the Web is enough. Like now, for instance. I’ve got to unplug for a little while on the weekend.

My media affliction, identified; seeking a cure

Just as I unwound from Friday’s rant about media coverage of Michael Jackson’s death, Doc Searls applies a salve to what’s been ailing me:

“Most of us can’t help falling into conversational black holes. But we can help getting sucked into celebrity obsession.”

As I’ve been thinking about what I wrote yesterday — and posted on some other blogs — I realize I got sucked down the even more tempting rabbit hole of obsessing about celebrity obsession. My enmity for pop culture is at the heart of this.

My reaction also was triggered by a fear that my profession was headed down the Pigalle path of OJPalooza. And with the cause of Jackson’s death to be speculated upon for weeks, and his personal physician gone missing,  I’m sure cable news, Huffington Post and other outlets suffering from post-election reader/viewer drops will get a big boost. How nice for them, how dreadful for those of us who at least occasionally try to glean some news and intelligent insight from them.

And then the New York Times explicates how “TMZ was far ahead in its reporting depth.” Stop the inanity!

Help me! I’m getting obsessed again! Searls’ main point about the Jackson attention is that it is one great big time and energy suck:

“I submit that obsessing about celebrity is unhealthy for the single reason that it is also unproductive. Celebrity is to mentality as smoking is to food. (I originally wrote “chewing gum” there, but I think smoking is the better analogy.) It is an unhealthy waste of time. And time is a measure of life. We are born with an unknown sum of time, and have to spend all of it. ‘Saving’ time is a rhetorical trick. So is ‘losing’ it. Our lives are spent, one end to the other. What matters most is how we choose to spend it.

“The Net maximizes the endlessness of choice about how we spend our time. It also maximizes many kinds of productiveness. Nearly all the code we are using, right now, to do stuff on the Net, was written by many collaborators across many distances. Some were obsessing about what they were producing. Others were just working away. Either way, they chose to be productive. To contribute. To work on what works.”

Thanks for the prognosis, Doc.

Kvetch of the Week: All hail the grim reapers

Naming this week’s winner was especially tough, given the plethora of candidates on either side of the old media vs. new media tug-of-war that competes for the emotions of journalists in transition or those who are soon to be in new career mode.

The pro-print cranks are back with a vengeance, clinging even more desperately to their ink-stained view of the world. Or proclaiming that the fate of democracy hangs in the balance.

So are those who think the print cranks are sentimental saps who have no one to blame but the people who’ve led their industry off the cliff. And who haven’t done democracy any great favors lately.

While I’m firmly in the new media corner, some of the poobahs of the movement have sounded even more utopian as the labored breathing of the printed press grows worse. Some lofty and worthy ideas are occasionally undermined by hyperbole and self-importance.

A friend’s first impressions of reading “What Would Google Do?” nails this perfectly, and she’s not from the world of journalism or new media: “The author is wonderfully impressed with himself.”

Fortunately, we have a nice little (and rare) piece of satire on this subject from Paul Dailing of the Huffington Post, who has decided to be a “Death of Newspapers” blogger. Unlike Dan Kennedy, I don’t think this treatment is unfair at all. If good journalists are supposed to question grand pronouncements from politicians and other public figures, then they also ought to scrutinize the visionaries who have positioned themselves as the gurus of a rapidly transforming profession.

Like any good satire, Dailing’s little ditty contains some serious shots that haven’t resulted in much blowback from the intended targets. If that’s not the case please correct me, but for now enjoy the new Kvetch of the Week, albeit one that’s a bit tongue-in-cheek:

“I’ll join the ranks of Jeff Jarvis, Paul Gillin, Jay Rosen and Clay Shirky in competing to see who can use the most jargon to describe something everyone knows is happening.

“Apparently, it’s very simple. The more you self-reference, pick feuds and talk about the failure of TimesSelect, the better you’re doing. If you make it sound like you’re the one who figured out newspapers are dying, you win.

“I mean, the point’s not to fix anything. It’s to describe the problem more dramatically than the next guy.”

Their methodology is finally exposed:

“Basically, imagine a group of people watching a building burn down and bickering amongst themselves about whether it’s a conflagration or an inferno. It’s like that, but with consulting fees.

“Talk about how everything online is wonderful, everything paper is crap and then use the online to pimp your upcoming (paper) book. Bonus points for talking about how much you love the New York Times at least twice per blog post. It’ll help your credibility. You love the Times, but . . . ”

And Dailing “quotes” one of the sages, an ex-newspaper hand, who explains how he got all geeky and then lays out a euphoric future for the news that is all sunshine and daffodils — except for those doing the news:

” ‘This computer thing,’ my editor said to me one time in 1983, ‘I don’t get it.’ And I think about that conversation a lot. It’s a perfect example of how newspapers have botched everything connected to everything new ever. Granted it was one conversation with a 72-year-old man back in the era of Flock of Seagulls, but that didn’t stop me from making it the title of my upcoming book, ‘This Computer Thing, I Don’t Get It,’ coming out in October from Obsequious Press.

“In TCTIDGI, I talk about how people will still create professional-level journalism will still exist in an environment where there’s no incentive to create professional-level journalism. It’ll all be done online, for free and will be better . . . somehow. The best and brightest journalists will pull out all the stops for no pay, I swear.

“Really, reporters don’t even LIKE having health insurance.”

Here’s the link again, and the comments section is interesting too.

Journalism’s age of experimentation ramps up

When I first saw that only 20 of the estimated 170 journalists at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer would carry on in the news organization’s all-online format, I was aghast.

Surely they need more newsroom people than that to keep a vibrant site updated 24/7 with fresh reporting, photography, video and other multimedia components. How are they going to be a general-interest news site in a major American city this way?

That’s still some of my old newspaper thinking getting in the way, and in moments like this it’s hard to let go of that.

But the P-I’s print demise has been long foretold. And while it’s terrible that most staffers are out of jobs with today’s last print edition, the way the P-I will be doing the news will change radically, in profound ways that likely could not have taken place had a newspaper continued to exist.

Media critic and Rupert Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff offers this cold, unsympathetic assessment of the P-I as an entity, and asserts that smaller may be better:

“In general, eight times more people at an American newspaper produce stuff that is at least eight times longer and eight times more boring than it has to be. For many years now, in any American newsroom the sound you hear—there being no typewriters or printing presses anymore—is the strangled hum of anxiety mixed with deep paralysis. Pure existential nothingness. Everybody is there filling the column inches of this odd receptacle, or ungainly format, or daily void that most people in the country have no use for—indeed, no idea how to use anymore. Or why they should want to use it.”

Quite a few journalists naturally and understandably are mourning the loss of print-oriented journalism that will disappear. Instead of lengthy investigative pieces (here are some ideas that might make it work online), the P-I will emphasize more aggregated content and citizen bloggers, for example.

And what will these 20 journalists be doing? Executive producer Michelle Nicolosi says the better question is what won’t they be doing?:

“We don’t have reporters, editors or producers—everyone will do and be everything. Everyone will write, edit, take photos and shoot video, produce multimedia and curate the home page. That’ll be a training challenge for everyone, but we’re all up for the challenge and totally ready to pick up all these skills.”

Journalists who possess those skills, or show a willingness to learn them and upgrade them for Web work, will be the ones who can move forward most confidently in this profession. While that’s no guarantee in the current newsroom environment — it wasn’t for me — for those of us on the outside it’s even more imperative to get them, use them and blend them into the journalistic practices we have long followed.

What’s happening in Seattle is one of many online news experiments that displaced journalists can learn from. This is the age of journalistic experimentation, and what the P-I is facing, as Nicolosi describes, needs to be in the mindset of every laid-off, bought-out journalist interested in staying in the profession:

“Our strategy moving forward is to experiment a lot and fail fast—that’s how we’ve been operating the Web site for years, and it’s been a very effective formula for growth.

“We will resist the urge to be sentimental about the things we’ve always done. We have to reinvent how things are done on many fronts. Everybody on the staff is excited to see what we can do with this new mission.”

Slate media critic Jack Shafer pans Nicolosi’s vision, calling it “an advertisement for embalming fluid.” But he really doesn’t elaborate.

Some former staffers at the Rocky Mountain News are planning their own news site with paid subscriptions as a model. I don’t know whether it’s feasible or not; nobody does. But Rocky alumni have quickly sprung into action on their own to see what’s possible.

Longtime Rocky baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby and colleagues set up a Colorado Rockies-oriented Web site the week after the demise of their paper. And Ringolsy’s rather matter-of-fact about it all:

I never felt the Internet was a threat. I felt in the long run it was going to be a positive for our business. I was just hoping we’d figure it out before we went through a major recession in the business. We didn’t. You know, we didn’t, so you move on.

Chris Seper and Mary Vanac, former reporters at the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, another highly endangered publication, took buyouts and began their own health care-oriented site. Says Seper:

“It’s a time in our lives when you should put all the cards on the table and examine all possibilities. If you look for a life preserver you’re settling.”

As Seper recounts further in the piece, his workdays are longer and the emotional swings are wilder. None of this is easy, as I am finding out in my own post-newsroom adventures.

But amid the ashes of the printed newspaper these are just a few glimmers of hope that individual journalists are taking the responsibility for helping their profession move forward, especially since their news organizations have done little in that regard. It’s essential that we all do.

Rediscovering the joy of journalism, one day at a time

It’s been a busy week around here, and that’s a good and happy occasion. A few freelance assignments that are becoming regular, some prospecting for more work and sharpening story proposals for a new journalism venture have kept me more than occupied — they’ve kept my spirits up and are keeping me hopeful.

I haven’t felt like this every day, or even for a sustained period since I took a buyout in August. Some days have been horribly dispiriting. I’m a moderately pessimistic person by nature, so the constant headlines in the news — and about the news — have dragged me down from time to time.

But in spite of a terrible economy that probably will grow worse, and as the newspaper industry continues to implode, I may have reached something of a tipping point in my evolution beyond the newsroom. One reason is time — it’s been almost four months since I left it. Another is that there are so many of us going through this experience, and we’re reaching out to one another.

Someone who’s been critical in my transition was interviewed by a freelance writing blog about the prospects for journalists. Joe Grimm was the newsroom recruiter for the Detroit Free Press, and still writes a daily blog on the subject for the Poynter website. I filled out a Poynter questionnaire after being approved for my buyout, and Joe promptly called me back — on the first day of his buyout.

It was a comforting conversation, and many of the things Joe said to me he reiterated to The Golden Pencil, a good resource for freelancers. Grimm suggests filling in piecemeal freelance work around an “anchor” source:

“Full-time freelancers amaze me. It seems to me that the way to make a living at it is to nail down one solid, steady customer who will be good for at least 40 percent of your compensation and to then build around it. . .

“I am a big believer in journalism. We are increasingly a knowledge economy. Journalists are right there. But we have to learn and change. Content—good, original, meaningful content—has value. People will pay for it. But it has to be good, it has to be original and we have to find a way to let its creators benefit from it. . .

“Freelancers should take the next step—and keep ahead of people with jobs—by creating more content that they own themselves. Blog. Build Web sites. Publish print-on-demand books. Those have become so easy! Make things that will pay. . .

Some other reading that’s helping me stay focused on my business at hand includes this exhortation to become an independent learner, a phrase I have placed prominently on my résumé.

The change we’ll be grappling with for the rest of our lives isn’t limited just to journalism; it’s the full force of a technological tsunami that’s already arrived on 3.0 shores. Don’t get stuck in 2.0 thinking for long, and if you haven’t gotten to that point, by all means, start catching up now! The institutions that have girded us are collapsing, and they don’t hold the clues to what’s ahead.

That 3.0 world means workers will have to be much quicker to adapt, and must welcome new possibilities all the time. Wired Magazine founder Chris Anderson, whose book, “The Long Tail,” I highly recommend, suggests trying something new every three years, offering this as the rationale:

“You’re now expert at what you set out to master. Great. Now go do something else.”

Staying on top of industry trends is essential. You know this, of course. But as I peer at the dreary newspaper news on Romenesko in a rearview mirror, I’m firmly trained on what’s transpiring in the industry that I now call mine. The excellent Berkman Center, an Internet think tank at the Harvard Law School, has just posted a series of reports on the state of the digital media industry with plenty of useful information for journalists to absorb and understand.

More than anything, I try to surround myself with, and stay in touch with, people who are forward-thinking and energized. I spent some time this week with former colleagues, many of whom feel the way I do. I’ve had conversations with others who have lived the entpreneurial life (in other professions) and who teach me every day what it’s like to be fully immersed in meaningful work that has value for others.

Diving headlong into what media and technology writer Douglas Rushkoff calls “the pleasure of craft” is no guarantee against the economic storm we’re living in. But without it, you’re guaranteed to get swallowed up.