When I daydream about the world of tomorrow, my mind immediately goes to old Popular Science magazines with cover stories about flying cars and wondrous devices.
But ask most journalists about the future, and a look of demoralized panic will wash across their faces. Yes, technology makes "modern-day reporting faster and more accurate, and the internet has been a boon to journalism and the art of keeping tabs on your local government. But it has also nearly disintegrated a once-prosperous business model that supported robust news gathering for more than a century.
Headlines about the spate of newspaper closures are almost as dispiriting as the continuous line of former journalists being forced out of the profession by layoffs, buyouts or a general malaise about their future prosperity. At times, it seems the only real response is an oversized bar tab at journalism conferences that fail to deliver on any big promises, focusing instead on the next shiny object that won't move the needle.
It's Parkinson's law of triviality in action, where we focus on relatively unimportant issues as the house continues to burn down in the background.
But what if we could reframe the future and reclaim it for journalism? I'm not talking about the current strategy of replacing print dollars with digital pennies, but think of new ways to support and sustain journalism through the 21st century and beyond.
Would that truly require bold, radical ideas that are currently being worked on in some tech genius's garage, or are the seeds for that new future already being planted today, despite the doom and gloom surrounding the industry?
Netflix and News
Why not start with how news might be able to not only take advantage of streaming services, but end up becoming the key to winning the streaming war?
Nearly 150 million people in the U.S. currently subscribe to Netflix. Another 28 million subscribe to Hulu. And while Facebook and Google long ago realized that access to news stories was an essential component of the user experience on their platforms, most streaming networks have avoided news and journalism all together (outside of documentaries).
Recently, Hulu has attempted to change that. The Disney-owned streaming platform has partnered with the New York Times to offer the newspaper's new feature The Weekly, a digital streaming home after its debut on FX. The Weekly is essentially taking content that began as long-form investigative journalism and adapting it into 18 to 24 minute episodes for a television audience.
Edward O'Keefe, currently a Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard and a former senior vice president at CNN, believes that it's only a matter of time before...