New journalism: We've got it
Mike Consol and I had a fun morning a couple of weeks ago talking about the print media and so-called new journalism with the 33 participants in this year's Pleasanton Leadership. It was the group's annual "Media Day," which meets at Las Positas College. Mike and I help conduct this interactive forum each year although the audience is always new, so we know what to say and the likely questions we'll be asked. An easy assignment, but always upbeat and this year more challenging. For this group, the term "new journalism" is a popular way of pointing to Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google as the new way much of the public -- those under 50, at least -- are getting their news. Mike has years of experience in the print media, including top posts with American City Business Journals, including the former East Bay Business Times.
He's now a writing coach through his firm MikeConsol.com, where he helps companies build their communications prowess and expand into the interactive realm. I'm a longtime career newspaperman with a few side trips into corporate public relations, but basically a print media guy. Both of us have moved smoothly from the old electric typewriter days to computers and now to social media. So when one of the questions was what are we going to do when new journalism does away with the printed word, we had answers, and also shared our concerns. Coming at a time when the Pleasanton Weekly is marking its 12th anniversary, Mike, who reads this paper as well as our four online publications in Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon and Danville, stopped short of saying there'll always be a Pleasanton Weekly. But we both acknowledged it is hard to think of a time when there won't be a newspaper to spread out on the kitchen table with a cup of coffee to enjoy while reading.
A show of hands indicated that everyone in the room reads the Pleasanton Weekly, although hands went down on an accelerating basis as we asked about local, regional and national newspapers. On many breaking news stories, it's simply faster to go online to CNN or Drudge or ABCnews.com for real time reports. But the news, as we report it for the Tri-Valley here at the Weekly, or nationally by the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, just isn't as timely as what's posted online. The Huffington Report or celebrity news on TMZ is always interesting, even entertaining, but no one can count on its accuracy. "New journalism," as it's called, really isn't all that different from old journalism where editors insisted and readers expected truth and fairness in news reports. You can't expect that out of blogs and YouTube or even from the thousands of reports simulating real news on Google. Beyond learning about a "friend's" new baby or seeing a vacation retreat, social media helps promote things, but it can't be counted on for accurate and objective news. That is unless the news showing up on your iPad, iPhone, Facebook or NuAlert comes from a "live" professional journalist at the other end.
Asked about the reliability of the hundreds of online commentaries we all read every day, Mike and I agreed that social media is here to stay and gaining ground over newspapers and television as a way many viewers are getting their news. Surveys show that younger Americans are hearing and seeing the news on their computers, smart phones and iPad devices, with many also checking out sites established by credible media. Still, the printed newspaper appeals to many who appreciate the more leisure time they have to leaf through the pages.
Embarcadero Media, which started the Pleasanton Weekly 12 years ago, was also the first in the country to put a newspaper online -- the Palo Alto Weekly. Together with other newspapers in the group, we now have scores of online editions, both the weekly newspapers we publish and also continually updated daily editions. There are even email "express" editions for key stories in the communities we serve every weekday, including PleasantonExpress.com, that's posted to thousands of email subscribers at 8 a.m. every weekday morning. The best part about all of these "new journalism" dailies is that there are professional editors and reporters providing the stories. Sign up today for your Express. It's part of the "new journalism" movement.