Daily Archives: August 13, 2013
Information is gathered and presented in a non-stop cycle driven by the engine of speed. The invention of the Internet, and its digital revolution sidekick, has created boundless avenues for this information, with blogs as a primary example. Along with these developments into new media, there has been continuous concern over the future of journalism. Is journalism as we know it fading away? Is journalism, in the traditional sense, keeping up with the more independent, social media oriented times? How does this “wild west” (so to speak) of informal writing, with a myriad of perspectives, consolidate into a more perfect network of trustworthy journalism in the modern era? Who can do it?
Jeff Bezos, of Amazon.com, recently purchased The Washington Post for $250 million. No big deal. Equipped with a successful background in technology, he represents a pivotal shift for the state of journalism in the ever-changing 21st century. His challenge: interweaving formal content with informal content to create a newspaper/news hub that appeals broadly and specifically to both the formal and informal audiences. Formal can be defined as traditional. Think of the likes of David Brooks of The New York Times and Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal. Informal can be defined as this very blog (Jimmy’s Daily Planet, in which its sole writer and creator has a Bachelors Degree in Communications with a Major in Journalism) and other websites that feature writers who individually publish with daily frequency while simultaneously involving popular media elements to their posts and articles.
Quality is not the major issue between the two sides as much as it is style.
Much like any good sitcom, movie or book, there are various characters with unique qualities, motivations and reactions. There need to be strong leads, but without the flamboyant supporting characters, the fun and thrill of the plot suffers. It’s reality. Words like “dull” or “stale” rise to the front of the viewer’s mind. When this happens, people cease to care, no matter the premise or leading voices. The leads provide the foundation and the richness, but every character is pivotal to telling a compelling story. Plot twists and surprises are always great content drivers as well.
No matter how small or seemingly “goofy,” any good puzzle needs a variety of pieces. Imagine the “Back to the Future” trilogy without the dumb-witted responses from Biff (“make like a tree and get out of here!”) or the eccentric hair, clothes and personality of Dr. Emmett Brown (“Doc”).
How good would those movies have been? Would there have been a second or third movie?
In the case of these two examples, recall that the content and quality always remained high with these characters. The writing was also supreme. It’s a balance that requires skill and intelligence, but it can and has been done with great precision and enjoyment.
The point is that when everything was put together, including the characters, sets and the undeniably cool time machine (“Wait a minute, wait a minute Doc…are you telling me that you built a time machine, out of a DeLorean!?”) the “Back to the Future” trilogy became an American favorite in the eighties that remains popular today. The film’s stock is still soaring as high as the time traveling DeLorean.
Two words to describe the three movies are classic and cool.
Bezos has the pioneering task of combining the traditional pillars of The Washington Post, with its distinguished staff, with informal staff members and their new content. The Post has the leads, but what it needs are vibrant colors that will attract viewers from near and far.
Good content remains a desired asset in our free society, but the style is changing. Bezos has his hands full with his decision to buy one of the premier newspapers in the United States. His personal reputation grants him space and opportunity to design his grand vision for the new newspaper. The answer to how he will enact his transformation, however large or small, is reserved within the brainstorming mind of Bezos himself for the time being. In the back of our heads though, we all know the great script he wrote for Amazon.com…
It will be fascinating to see his ideas come to fruition when the season’s right. Whatever they are, they will send shock-waves throughout the media universe.
The two words that Jeff Bezos will almost certainly hope people will use to describe his new Washington Post are classic and cool.
And if he can achieve this, then he will have successfully brought journalism back to the future.