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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Potential tsunami in the media world

This week’s media news heralds big changes. First, Washington Post’s wunderkind Ezra Klein ended the speculation about his future by announcing that he and several colleagues were leaving the venerable Grand Dame of the news world to remake journalism at Vox Media. Vox is a growing digital emporium that also includes SB Nation, a sports site, The Verge, a fast-growing technology site, and Curbed, Eater and Racked.

Writing in the New York Times, media critic David Carr, says, “Klein is not running away from something, he is going to something else.” He quotes Klein, who says, “We are at the beginning of how journalism should be done on the Web. We really wanted to build something from the ground up that helps people understand the news better.” 

Then eBay’s founder Pierre Omidyar released a video introducing First Look Media, a new general-interest news organization devoted to politics and foreign policy, sports and entertainment. 

Omidyar’s plans include featuring multiple digital publications, each with its own editorial voice and led by an experienced, visionary journalist. In his introductory video, he promises to “bring back to journalism what’s been lost – the critical but expensive support that’s often neglected in the digital age. In our model, teams of data analysts, fact checkers, visual designers, editors and technologists will work together with writers, reporters and producers to create powerful stories presented in compelling packages.” Omidyar didn’t say how he was going to pay for all of this other than using his own fortune. Here is a link to a video that introduces his concept:

Some legacy news organizations are attempting to reinvent themselves, too. On Monday, Audrey Cooper, managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle revealed what she was going to do with the old food section offices around the corner. Cooper told Rachel Kanigel of PBS that she was starting an off-site, startup-style incubator to retrain reporters, editors, photographers, copy editors, programmers and designers in a digital/social media boot camp. She wants the staff to rethink every aspect of the news business and their beats.

What will this mean to my ever-thinner daily newspaper? I am staying tuned.    

News wonks and readers who have been in a serious funk over the purported death of journalism may find that 2014 brings a pleasant change, just in time to report on the midyear elections.  


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