Inspired by the intense reader interest in our “How to fix America” segment, we decided to shift the conversation closer to our own backyard for “How to fix journalism,” the next installment of the series. To date, much of the discussion regarding the ailing news media has been framed as one of polar choices — print versus pixels, reporter versus blogger, free versus paid — with the occasional digression into a blowout pissing contest (we’re looking at you Bill Keller and Arianna Huffington) that many have understandably written off as occupational narcissism run amok. Yet, despite being fraught with the risk of enabling journalists to navel gaze endlessly, a conversation about the future of news seems like a particularly timely one in light of the extraordinary events that have unfolded from the streets of Egypt to the shores of Japan in recent weeks — all of which have underscored the need for a strong and vital global fourth estate.
Over the coming days, we will be talking to publishers, editors and entrepreneurs about the myriad challenges facing the industry and focus on solutions that can point the way to a revitalized, sustainable model for journalism in the 21st century.
Senior Managing Editor, Associated Press
New York City
Hand wringers would be hard pressed to find any commiseration from this veteran newsman, who remains optimistic about the future of journalism after 36 years in the business. Michael Oreskes, 56, senior managing editor of the Associated Press, talked to us from his offices at the AP headquarters in midtown Manhattan about the century-old news agency that can trace its provenance back to the Mexican-American war and why it remains relevant in today’s rapidly evolving news environment.
A cooperative approach to news
Tracking and protecting content
Making a case for quality journalism
Covering the Gulf oil spill
Oreskes, previously the executive editor of the International Herald Tribune and deputy managing editor at The New York Times (where he oversaw web and television content), also weighed in on the debate regarding online content protection, and discussed the advantages that traditional news agencies can still leverage in covering multifaceted stories like last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill (for which the AP recently garnered a George Polk award for environmental reporting).
While acknowledging the digital future of the industry, Oreskes cautioned aspiring journalists not to lose sight of the basics. “It’s not about technology. It’s about getting it right. It’s about explaining it clearly. … The core values of journalism are the things that make it valuable, and I think that’s what people really should focus on learning. There’s a certain tendency to think that what you need to know is how to write computer code or how to edit a piece of video — and those are good skills, they’re important skills — but those aren’t the skills that will define the difference between great journalism and all that other stuff that’s out there.”