From IVP Wiki

Dan Conover is a writer and filmmaker who spent 20 years in the newspaper business, 14 of them at the daily paper in Charleston, SC. His newspaper career ended with a buyout in 2008.

Along the way he worked as a pasteup clerk, a reporter, a page designer, a political editor, a city editor (twice), an illustrator, a cartoonist, a puzzlemaker, a web director, a blogger, a metro columnist, a features writer and a web video guy. He was named South Carolina's Journalist of the Year in 2005.

Conover hand-coded his first web page on Geocities in 1994 and began studying the digital revolution's effects on traditional media companies in 2004.

Some of his ideas:

and faculty at the University of Mississippi)

Conover blogs at Xark! <> , e-mails from and is [ @Xarker on Twitter.

What went wrong with journalism over the past decade

By Dan Conover

A lot of things went wrong with journalism over the past decade, but the Web wasn't one of them. That's not an easy pitch to sell in 2009, not with the Web so clearly cast as the scapegoat for the newspaper industry's woes, but it's a truth we must confront if we want the second decade of the century to be better than the first.

We're smack in the midst of a media interregnum in 2009, and if you want to know how bad things are, here's a thought: Suddenly everybody in the newsroom is talking about “montetizing” this or that, and it's not because we wouldn't rather be talking about something else. We're just scared now, and for good reason.

Which is why I'm writing back to writing about business-minded things like The New Exotics and The Informatics Scenario. There's simply more interest in the future of professional media today – and more openness to new ideas.

But writing about new business models doesn't address our deeper problems: Poor quality, low standards, the denigration of journalism by management, and a bottom-line mentality that equates shallow popularity with newsworthiness (which is not to say that the alternatives are always better). For the professional press to regain a positive role in American society, we simply must confront these compromises. This means connecting to The People Formerly Known As The Audience in new ways, learning to communicate effectively in a networked environment, and earning trust with deeds, not words.

Networked media enabled a cultural revolution in America, but journalists missed it (psst... if you want to know where to look, start with cooperation and control) because we've focused instead on the economics of its technological tools. Our immediate survival depends on cutting our ties to the intransigent past and swimming after this wave. Those who oppose it have no future but drowning.

The trailing wave – looming on the distant horizon yet accelerating as it approaches – is the convention-smashing power of new tools that scale to the scope of the global information economy. This is the semantic future, and its philosophy of information is wildly foreign to the traditions of mass media. It promises to change the context in which information is created, communicated and stored, and professional journalists will be forced to account for its demands or once again seek other employment.

We failed as a profession when it came to understanding how communication was changing the world we covered, and though journalists didn't create each of the cascading failures that now plague us, it's past time that we stopped blaming our problems on the Web and “those people” on it. How we frame those issues for others will go a long way toward determining our collective fate.


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