Jay Rosen’s recent attack on Fortune columnist Justin Fox reminded me that changing old media’s role in this new world is not going to happen by telling them that they stink.
He accused Justin of failing to say anything meaningful in the ‘private vs public ownership of media’ debate. Underneath it all, however, was the more acidic accusation that Justin doesn’t get the Internet:
Justin then responded in depth to Jay, defending the accusations point by point on his new blog:
I’m as guilty as the next new media nerd of pressing old media to change their ways based on my own small view of the present and future challenges. I’m equal parts idealist and pragmatist, almost always the former when blogging.
But I also know that there are many editors and executives alike who wish very much to apply the mental shift they may have adopted perhaps years ago and turn it into practical change without losing their jobs in the process. We need those people employed and making change happen in their organizations in order to accomplish the new media goals, no matter how slowly.
As Justin points out, even Time Warner has adopted a multi-threaded approach to journalism where columnists are required to post weekly online in addition to their print columns which require significantly more dedication. If that’s not enough, Justin has recently begun blogging on topic and wrote a book on one of his beats to boot.
Time Warner may not be collaborating with customers as much as it needs to, but clearly that door is opening some. And that’s a good thing.
Jay is not wrong to press old media to change more dramatically and to do it faster. It’s not just the methods that need to change. The way that they think about the world around them and the value of their perspective both need to accomodate a new and different way of communicating.
In this case, it’s a matter of picking which battles to fight. Attacking those who are influencing positive change at the companies you wish to influence is probably going to turn off those who may be listening to you.
Don’t invite other kids to play in the sand box and then throw sand at them, Jay.