It’s past time to change news’ way of thinking

Some years ago, I was in an Atlanta Press Club meeting discussing the organization’s debate series.

It was probably 2008 or 2009. The conversation turned to attracting more journalists to cover the debates — a noble goal.

I threw out the idea of taking video of the debate and sending snippets for reporters to use in their coverage. It seemed like an obvious tactic.

I would have been better off suggesting selling company secrets on the dark web.

The head of the public broadcasting channel hosting the debates rebuked my idea. To put it nicely, he more or less said it wasn’t possible on top of saying it was a ridiculous idea to suggest.

He might as well have banished me to public relations. He might have if I hadn’t already made the move; this narrow-minded thinking was one of the many reasons I left print journalism.

I gradually stepped back from the organization as I quickly realized they represented one way of approaching “journalism.”

There are many reasons why journalism has faltered over the past 15 to 20 years, but one of them is a lack of diverse thinking. How people consume news and information has changed — this is not an Earth-shattering idea.

All too often, news outlets operate like digital versions of newspapers. They don’t take advantage of the many — often cost-effective — tools at their disposal.

Newspapers aren’t in the printing business. News sites aren’t in the web publishing business. They’re both in the storytelling business.

Printed paper and HTML code are merely formats for telling stories. Yet, they approach their online and printed properties differently. Despite the emergence of the “digital first” idea, most newspapers and news outlets approach journalism like it’s 1974.

Often, embedding a YouTube video or a Tweet passes for a multimedia approach. It can — and should — be about so much more.

Words are impactful, and I still believe they’re the best way to tell a story. That’s why I still prefer to write books, not e-books.

In 2023, “journalists” must recognize words aren’t the only way to convey a message.