Journalism Innovation Looks Like This

We’re milking our recent poll with Editor & Publisher while we can. Previously we looked at what editors had to say about how their own jobs are changing and then about how they use freelancers. We also asked them to spitball about the future. More specifically we asked, “What one innovation do you most want to see happen to the field of journalism in the next five years?”

Of the 609 responses we received, a great many were pleas for the return of quality journalism, calls for the overthrow of our search engine overlords, exhortations to rebellion against the tyranny of CPMs, disgust with digital standards and so on. However, plenty were also novel or revealing. Being fans of visual representations of large datasets, as well as stuck in the internet of the 20th Century, we put together a nice word cloud based on the responses.

What jumps out? Action verbs, lots of them. Also, “content,” a term of art that once set eyes rolling and throats grunting in newsrooms. More relevant to the conversation on this blog is the concentration of financial and monetary terms such as revenue, model, profitable. But what’s really striking about this visualization is the overall tone and lexicon in usage: it’s extremely forward-looking (platform, audience) and hopeful (action verbs again) for a group that is often viewed as hopelessly behind the times and not particularly ashamed of that.

Aside from causing us to exceed our annual sarcasm exposure limit, perusing the collective wish list produced one popular thread: the lower-quality online product being subsidized by a higher-quality print product instead of the other way around. That is, online should start producing meaningful revenue because it’s sure as hell mucking up the product.

And, hey, look at those paywalls going up just in time!

As a kicker, here are a few highlights:

I would like to see book publishers get up to speed on offering their authors digital media opps and rights – across the board.

More simplification in front-end systems that allow content to flow from one platform to another with minimal fixes.

Better ways of connecting long trails of information and history to new developments.

Integrated digital, print and content management tools (including layout, design and HTML) that allows my reporting staff to do what they’re capable of so they don’t have to spend time finding technological solutions every time we need to explore a new method of delivery for information.

Improved ability to manage and manipulate data, especially as an interactive and visually engaging online tool.

I think everyone is waiting for the ‘eureka’ idea that allows web work to start paying for its share of company resources.

P.S. Thanks to all who participated. Credit to Wordle.net for a nice, free word cloud app that doesn’t come with draconian terms of service.

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About Peter C. Beller

Peter C. Beller is director of content at Ebyline. He was previously a staff writer for Forbes and has freelanced for numerous publications. He can be reached at peter@ebyline.com.

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