Yesterday Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released its annual “State of the News Media 2010” report. Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, provided information for the report’s section on Online Economics and Consumer Attitudes.
So what does Rainie think about journalism’s future? He is optimistic. In the Future of Journalism video interview below, Rainie tells Leonard Witt:
There is every reason to think that high quality, ethically sound journalism will be alive and well after our grandchildren are dead…citizens understand the importance of it.
News organizations are trying to adapt to the new realities that will allow them to provide it, and there will always be a portion of the population who deeply cares about public life and civic life and the way that public institutions perform. And there will be ways for them to tell their stories and learn about what’s going on in their communities.
Watch the full video and read the transcript below. For more updates on the Future of Journalism, sign in at the Future of Journalism alerts box on this page and see the full interview series here.
Leonard Witt: Hi, I’m Len Witt and I’m here with Lee Rainie. Lee why don’t you tell us what you do?
Lee Rainie: I’m director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project; which looks at how people use the internet.
Witt: Ok, so here’s the tough question that I’m asking people, sort of short answers but a tough question. So what’s your prediction for the future of journalism?
Rainie: I think it will be more distributed, we already see that happening now. It will become more citizen oriented and citizen produced. The news organizations will adapt to a bunch of those changes, but might not survive some of the other changes that are in store.
Witt: Ok, so how is this all going to get paid for? That’s a big question for Yale’s Who Will Pay for the Messenger Conference.
Rainie: There’s a lot of commotion about the answer to that, and I think new advertisers can be brought into the mix. There are lots of people who don’t think of media as a way to get out their story; and ought to be thinking I’m a local shop owner I’ve got opportunities now to reach a very local audience with these new tools and there are other platforms for me to exploit.
Witt: And one final question. So are you optimistic about high quality, ethically sound journalism in the future?
Rainie: There is every reason to think that high quality, ethically sound journalism will be alive and well after our grandchildren are dead.
Witt: And give me a couple of those reasons then.
Rainie: First of all I think citizens understand the importance of it. News organizations are trying to adapt to the new realities that will allow them to provide it, and there will always be a portion of the population who deeply cares about public life and civic life and the way that public institutions perform. And there will be ways for them to tell their stories and learn about what’s going on in their communities.
Witt: Do you think they’ll pay for it?
Rainie: I think there are ways that we will find new sources of revenue for that but it also just might be a social good. You know in a world where people can be building up their reputations and making contributions to their community there might be a different models that doesn’t involve pay but involves sort of increasing reputation and increasing sort of civic life from an individual perspective.
Witt: So will there be a place in here for professional journalists and will they be able to make a living doing it?
Rainie: The skill set of journalists has never been more in demand. In an information abundant environment the skills that allow you to gather up that information and make sense of it, then tell stories around it have never been more precious, and so the thing that we call journalism will be surviving and well. Whether it exist in institutions we call news organizations is probably the bigger question, but it will exist in all sorts of forms in the future.
Witt: Are you an optimist, or pessimist?
Rainie: I’m an optimist.
Witt: And why is that?
Rainie: I think it will pay for its self in a variety of ways, and I think citizens will rise to the challenge of figuring out what’s going own in their community and telling their neighbors about it.
Witt: Thank you very much.