Academic Dean at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Bill Grueskin, welcomed his new students earlier this month with words of wisdom on the state of journalism, and the effect online media has on more traditional forms of journalism. Grueskin, as deputy managing editor for news at The Wall Street Journal, supervised the development of the Journal’s Web site, wsj.com, before being appointed to Columbia eariler this year.
Grueskin tells his students that nobody really knows how newspapers will ultimately adapt to the World Wide Web. He describes some trends he sees, as reported by Kerry Weber:
1. We are experiencing an explosion of news sources. RSS feeds are becoming the online equivalent of the old, out-of-town newsstand by making numerous viewpoints on a single topic available in once place, said Grueskin, who uses Pageflakes.
2. The Internet provides a new way to engage readers. Not only are readers responding to articles online, but they’re being asked to take part in the news gathering process. Grueskin referenced the example of Joshua Micah Marshall of talkingpointsmemo.com, who asked his readers to help him sort through over 3,000 pages of documents regarding former Atty. General Alberto Gonzales. Marshall’s coverage of Gonzales’ involvement in the unwarranted dismissal of several U.S. attorneys earned him the George Polk Award for Legal Reporting.
3. The industry is demonstrating an increased willingness to innovate and to create new voices online. From Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com to Rafat Ali’s paidcontent.org, online journalists have pursued their specific interests and created new sites tailored to their own unique audiences, said Grueskin.
Grueskin encouraged journalism students to bring this new media mindset to their work, while maintaining a dedication to the craft and the values for which it stands.
“You have a responsibility, now, to our industry. Democracy works badly when the press is not healthy and vigorous,” said Grueskin. “Create models that will make it vibrant and healthy for a long time.”