Why we are here - Old-School Journalism is dead, long live the New School!
THE GROWLER: a years late followup to some heated discussions about the future of journalism ...
which led to a process diagram sketched on the back of an envelope that was promptly ignored for years.
During the decade that followed, journalism went into a tailspin and is now, effectively, neutered at the traditional point of origin, Main Stream Media, who are now too beholding to the entities they should report on that even the pretense of speaking truth to power is gone.
Then a media echo chamber of silliness on all sides effectively cauterized a Democratic-leaning populace into a zombie-like apathy at the polls.
Since then things have only gotten worse as no side substantively interacts with the brainstems of the American populace.
Not only must objective critical analysis occur (whether or not we call it journalism), that work needs to be given a fertile and sustainable soil from which to spring.
The Growler is that soil.
Read on to see what we want to become.
Barriers to entry were permanently redefined with the rise of napster, or for that matter, when the internet finally took a hold it will not soon relinquish. No longer would capital investment for information and communication or digital assets be the stopping point of innovation.
Since napster, one by one, old guard mainstays in industry after industry have fallen by the wayside as they are pummeled to irrelevance by wave after wave of information innovation.
- Music industry ... crippled.
- Movie industry .... crippled.
- Education industry ... crippled.
- Legal research ... crippled.
- Taxi industry ... crippled.
- Travel industry ... crippled.
- Retail ... crippled.
- Publishing ... crippled
Where once there was power in being there first, being there first was now nearly a death sentence when it was encumbered with leases, union contracts, inventory, stale processes ....
Each industry has fallen to the same foe. Information just tends towards freedom, a freedom which is the death knell for many industries.
The landscape is littered with the slow embrace of the new. Most of those slow embraces have lead, if not to death, to a state not far removed from death.
Journalism is no exception.
Newspapers grew into the focal points of communities. Whoever controlled the newspapers controlled public opinion across the country.
Broadway shows closed overnight based on reviews in newspapers.
Wars were instigated and fought by newspapers articles/editorials.
Baseball managers were fired by the pen that was, truly, mightier than the sword.
Newspapers were everywhere. And, in the same fashion, followed radio and television, each of which whittled away at the base attention afforded to newspapers.
And, with the advent of an evolving internet and universal and inexpensive access to that internet, the physical and economic barriers to entry to the news industry vaporized leaving a free for all that the physical media could not win. Down went hundreds of print editions from 2008-2019.
Many more, like the Detroit Free Press, went to less than daily and the dinosaurs of the industry nearly all failed to adapt leaving a vacuum that many have tried to fill by cherry picking print staff, selecting esoteric philosophical alternatives, blogging, conferences and even just hanging out an internet news-shingle.
Nobody really got it. No one on the journalism side, at least.
Everyone thought, in an industry that has been ad-driven for almost two hundred years, that their skills were the dominant driving force of the enterprise when it was all about distribution.
But, as the internet does not suffer idealistic fools well, and parts them of their money, attempt after attempt after attempt was made to force the internet, the new distribution, to bow to "journalism".
- Some putter along (Patch)
- Some started well but sold out ...
- Some were heavily subsidized and closed, at least partly, due to worker (non-investor) demands ... DNAINFO and Gothamist.
- Some tried something new and survive, albeit with limited story releases (San Francisco Public Press).
- Some were jump started by wealthy benefactors and grants and have staked a hold on the new journalism turf ... ProPublica
- Some partnered with nascent startups for awhile ... NY Times
- Some promised much by way of innovation to break thru but failed spectacularly (Civil).
Whomever rethinks journalism AND the economics AND involves the readers with an active brainstem has more chance of success than those who just rethink one or who philosophize with the dollars of others.
It goes without saying nowadays that something is amiss.
Each side spouts dogma it refuses to put up for substantive review, or that review vaporizes with the next news cycle, or that review is necessarily one sided without a dampening field around the loud talkers.
Absent some form of terra firma and longer term attention span, journalism will continue to circle the drain.
And, even if up for review, who does the review?
At theGrowler we are crafting a fertile soil for writers, opinionators, reporters, moderators, editors, journalists, analysts/artists and scientists such that they can reach readers and reach functional brainstem population through a platform that allows for review, analysis, discourse and change.