In this first post, I’ll be talking about the article Backpack Journalism is Here to Stay. (See also this counterpoint for reference.) As someone hoping to make a transition to multimedia, as she did, I find a ray of sunshine in Jane’s optimistic article, and in the way she’s still optimistic eight years later (I’ll get to that.)
“In a few years, backpack journalists will not only be the rule, they’ll rule,” Jane wrote in April 2002. It’s more than a few years later, enough to judge her prediction. I think she was half-right. Yes, they’re the rule now. But backpack journalists won’t save any media company. If that’s all it took, the New York Times, with their hordes of wandering multimedia reporters, wouldn’t be running ads on their front page and pursuing a pay-for-content web model that can only be described as bipolar.
Since 2002, the conversation that sparked the Online Journalism Review’s point/counterpoint has changed completely. Jane’s recent presentation for the Knight Digital Media center was called, “Journalism Dying, Journalism Schmying.” “I’m still an optimist, even after everything that’s happened after all these years,” she says in that presentation. That’s encouraging.