I have a confession: I was part of the problem for American newspapers.
In 2005, I had just started covering City Hall, and I felt like my newspaper career had taken off. I covered people in suits walking fast through an important building. I measured my success by how many times I landed on the Sunday front page.
But I didn’t realize that I was missing the biggest story of all: the information revolution. In fact, I proudly ignored it, rarely thinking about technology or the business of journalism. I started two blogs and tweeted. But I did it reluctantly and halfway.
Just as I settled into the City Hall bureau, Facebook created a ripple across college campuses. Google, YouTube, Twitter and Apple then powered a new digital wave in social and mobile media. Newspapers were never the same. Within five years, the industry lost half its revenue and is now trying to catch up with the former startups.
In 2011, I left my reporting job to become publisher of my old college newspaper. The topics I used to ignore — technology and the business of journalism — became my obsessive focus.
With some perspective, I see now that I committed the journalism crime described by Mark Briggs in “Entrepreneurial Journalism”: “The willful ignorance of the business of news is precisely what made us journalists such awful and irresponsible stewards of journalism … Too many journalists believe they were exempted from changing, even as the world around them exploded.”
To college journalists, here’s how to avoid my willful ignorance…. MORE
Ryan Frank is president of Emerald Media Group, the independent nonprofit media company at the University of Oregon. He previously spent 11 years reporting for The Oregonian. He blogs at The Garage and tweets @rfrank_oregon