Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Future: Hybrid Journalism, are we there yet?

Hybrid Journalism and Anna Nicole Smith
Tom Rutten wrote in the column "Regarding Media":

The mainstream journalistic coverage of Smith's death is among the first such stories driven, in large part, by an editorial perception of public interest derived mainly from Internet traffic. Throughout the afternoon Thursday, editors across the country watched the number of "hits" recorded for online items about Smith's death. These days, it's the rare newspaper whose meeting to discuss the content of the next day's edition doesn't include a recitation of the most popular stories on the paper's website. It's a safe bet that those numbers helped shove Anna Nicole Smith onto a lot of front pages.

What makes this of more than passing interest is that serious American journalism is in the process of transforming itself into a new, hybrid news medium that combines traditional print and broadcast with a more purposefully articulated online presence. One of the latter's most seductive attributes is its ability to gauge readers' appetites for a particular story on a minute-to-minute basis. What you get is something like the familiar television ratings — though constantly updated, if you choose to treat them that way.

Is "hybrid news medium" the future of American journalism or the path to something else?
Is this just the transitional phase from the old to the new, yet undefined, reality? In other words: is this the phase where traditional "mainstream" media, riding its past momentum in a gently downward slope as its market dies of old age, and new media, propelled upward by an increasingly pervasive Internet, Moore's law and a younger market more comfortable with YouTube coexists? What do you think American journalism will look like when Gen Y takes the reins of financial and political power?

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