Saturday, February 17, 2007

Stories, stories, and more stories

Whatever I have been reading lately, drives me to the conclusion that traditional media need more stories if they want to keep their readers. Besides, I am convinced that journalists and bloggers can work hand in hand to tell the general public what needs to be told.

Sometimes things can be published only on the internet. However, that does not always mean that journalists are not doing their job. Sometimes the situation is such that they simply can't do what they should be doing: investigate things that those in power would like to keep hidden. Even if they try, their stories won't get published. In such cases, bloggers can help journalists. Similarly, bloggers can be an excellent source of information for journalists. In turn journalists can help publicize bloggers and their topics, so that they can reach wider audience. Thus, I do not think that bloggers are a threat to conventional journalism. Rather, they complete each other.

That doesn't mean that journalists and traditional media should't re-think their position. I am convinced that their key advantage are stories written with the aid of novelistic techniques: about people around us, life we are living, and especially things we should care about. These stories have a beginning, middle and end, a character who is the hero of the story, scenes and dialogue. Evertyhing that makes the reader keep on reading it.

Internet helps us focus on things they are most interested in. But we need more. We need to learn about things that we are not otherwise interested in. How would have the American society developed, had not the media told it the stories about the injustice the African Americans experienced in Deep South in the 1950s? If the Americans had read only about things they were interested in, they wouldn't have known about segregation in schools and elsewehere and things wouldn't change for the better.

If we read on internet only what we want to know, we miss things we should know. And these are the things that traditional media (usually) provide us.

The media should rethink the form in which they present the content, and the platforom (paper, internet). However, the content (and I don't mean boring political articles about this parliament body meeting or that government press conference) should remain the same: that is things the public should know and care about.

There is a question circulating among media analyists: should newspapers dumb up or down to survive? My answer is up, of course. Newspapers should carry well researched stories written in an attractive and readable way, and these stories should help to understand, not judge.

What do you think?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Let's find a media outlet, shall we

Today I was talking to a group of collegues about the media situation in Slovenia and one of them joked that we actually cannot talk about the media in Slovenia, as there aren't any left. In fact, he added, we could perhaps write a story on how to find one.

It wasn't funny at all. After being away for a while (due to maternity leave) I am not used to pessimistic conversations which can be heard in different newspapers or journalists gatherings. And it depressed me to hear them. One could say, even if things are so bad, you have a choice: take it or leave it.

But there are reasons why not leave it: one, because we love what we do. Two, where could we go (if we want to stay in media industry)? In Slovenia, I've heard, journalists are censored almost anywhere.

Of course, we could try our luck abroad. But lanugage is an important tool of the journalist. And the one s/he can muster best is his/her mother tongue. So s/he sticks to his/her country. In Slovenia, there were only few new publications launched recently (among them National Geographic Slovenia, Jaz, Arzenal). The question is how many of them will survive in the long run. Besides, they look for contributors, not employed journalists.

And on the top of all that I checked the blogs on my blogroll today, and I saw that one of the journalistic blogs was turned into a pet blog. I wonder why? Perhaps because pets are a much safer topic? After all, journalists have to pay bills, dont' they? For the same reasons they keep signing new contracts which among other things prohibit them to criticize their emloyers.