#TOC, today’s sessions and the future of news

Watching the book industry digest social media, ebooks, the kindle, mobile strategies, and endless discussions for and against DRM has been interesting today, but it takes on some strange resonance given that Harper Collins just closed a division and laid off a slew of people, even though they were trumpeting this same division as the best thing ever a few months ago.

It’s also interesting to be back in NYC, where the proportions of navy blue blazers and dark suits is way higher than in California, even if the 80/20 ratio of male attendees to women is nothing new.

But the thing that is really getting me is what I am going to tell these book people about the future of news when I do my panel tomorrow. I mean, news organizations are collapsing like the buildings in Jurassic Park when the dinosaurs break loose and rampage. Journalists are wondering how to retrain themselves and Media Bistro’s freelance marketplace is LOADED with the laid off.

But all that is today, right now–what can I tell them about the future?

  • We’re not going to have widespread distribution of what we today call newspapers, print entities with web sites attached.
  • The need for well-research, accurate stories will remain, but it is as likely a team of people will write and contribute, Wikipedia-style, as one professional reporter will cover the story (in the case of hyper local, the wikipedia model is MUCH more likely.)
  • The line between fact and opinion will continue to blur, as will the line between citizen and journalist.
  • Storytelling will endure–in podcasting, videblogging, twitter and combos of the three
  • New business models will arise at the edges; it is early to see what could pull into the mainstream
  • Young people still dream of being journalists, still have passion to write and publish news stories; propoerly positioned, their work can have HUGE value to local communities.
  • We will read news more and more on digital devices–phones, iPods, small screens.
  • The business models need to be totally reinvented, but no one has it right yet.