The Death of Newspapers as the Rebirth of Journalism

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
R. Buckminster Fuller

There has been a lot of talk lately about the death of newspapers. Free content online has taken the profit out of newspapers, with even the New York Times considering its financial options.

Taking a vision-based approach to this issue, it becomes clear there is tremendous potential for journalism to be reborn as something more powerful, more relevant.

A vision-based approach doesn’t ask, “What is the problem, and how can we solve it?” Instead, the vision-based approach asks, “What do we really want to accomplish – what is our vision for what is possible? And how can we have THAT?”

So what is the potential here? What would success be?

A few things from my list:

• Everyone would have access to information free of political spin.
• Everyone would have access to information free of the corporate bias created by dependence on advertisers.
• We would have solid info re: the critical issues facing our world – what is really going on inside a war zone, real issues behind environmental degradation, real issues leading to / stemming from economic disaster.
• We would also have tons of information about what is positive, affirming – solutions that are working, people who are thriving, conditions that are joyful.

The way free people stay free is by being as informed as possible about the reality of their world. This information would allow us to make the best decisions possible about how to live our lives, how to vote in elections.

So if that is success, and so much is at stake, what cause-and-effect conditions might lead to such success?

• Clearly we would need to have a conduit for such news – a way of getting it into our homes.
• We would need to have journalists reporting that news.
• There would need to be production crews who turn what is reported into the stream that comes to our computers, our TVs, our doorsteps (I confess I love real newsprint in my hands!).
• People would need to be paid to do all that stuff!

The current newspaper model is failing not because people don’t want news – we probably want it more than ever. It is failing because newspapers in the US (and news magazines and television news shows) are run by for-profit companies. These companies are not in the business of providing that service because they care about their communities; they are in that business because it makes money. When it stops making money, newspapers go under.

So if the benefit of unbiased journalism is huge for our communities and our world, and there is no longer profit to be made, it seems the only logical next step is for news to become the Community Benefit service we need it to be – a “not-for-profit” and “FOR-community-benefit” system.

Those of us who care about having unbiased news upon which to base our decisions would donate to such a cause. Foundations who care to uphold open public dialogue would contribute.

Journalism would have a financial base and a mandate to explore the truth and report it back to us.

It is clear we are soon going to witness the death of newspapers as they are currently run. Perhaps it is time then to ask and answer the questions that matter most. Why is journalism important? What do we need from it? And how can we create a model that does that?

For more about vision-based approaches to problem-solving, read The Pollyanna Principles: Reinventing “Nonprofit Organizations” to Create the Future of Our World.

3 Responses to The Death of Newspapers as the Rebirth of Journalism

  1. QuirkyAlone:
    Thanks for your note, for reasons having nothing to do with the post. I was having trouble with WordPress when I wrote this post, requiring that I work back and forth between 2 different browsers to get it right (don’t ask…). Your comment made me realize that I had mistakenly hit “publish” on the early draft, not the final one – AAGHH!! So thank you – and I agree – as long as information is being provided by a human being, it will not be raw, but always filtered through their eyes.

  2. Another reason newspapers are failing is because of the reader’s ability to pick and choose their content without purchasing an entire newspaper. The record industry is having a similar problem. Cd sales are down and are growing more obsolete because we have the ability to purchase only the songs that we like.

    The internet is littered with advertising and sites are often run by corporations. As long as corporations and individuals are reporting news, we will have a bias. How can we use the “news” or media whether it is in our hands or on a screen to develop ourselves and community?