Changing Newsrooms from Within

Last Updated Mar 17, 2008 10:35 PM EDT

The fifth annual State of the News Media report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, says that "In the last year, the trends reshaping journalism didn't just quicken, they seemed to be nearing a pivot point."

The report states that "the biggest problem facing traditional media has less to do with where people get information than how to pay for it..."

No surprise there, but the report does identify a new trend -- editorial staffs coming up with innovative business ideas for their companies.

"The newsroom now clearly appears more innovative and risk-taking than the business side of news organizations," says Tom Rosenstiel, director of the non-profit effort.

This could indeed be evidence of a "pivot point." Until now, a key differentiator between "old" media and "new" has been the traditional "church-state line" separating the business side from the editorial side.

In the process, reporters, writers, editors have been largely kept away from the Big Table, where the company's business decisions were made.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the "line," advertising and business development execs have been discouraged from building relationships with the editors whose creative product they are attempting to sell.

Yet, it is the editors and other content creators who have the closest relationship with the audience that every media company tries to build.

Thus, the report notes that the new initiatives emanating from editorial staffs "represent a significant shift in the conversation..."

The report also includes a survey of journalists, and for the first time, a majority thinks that journalist blogs, public comments and story-ranking, and even citizen posts are all contributing to making journalism better...

Which indeed may represent an attitudinal sea change.

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital,, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.