Journalism’s future: ‘Silver bullets are the talisman of the desperate’

I will admit that it’s a bit cheeky quoting myself, but as I was watching the flow of posts and conversation on journalism blogs today, and specifically in response to Adam Tinworth’s excellent post Complexity is the New Reality, I wound up Tweeting “Silver bullets are the talisman of the desperate”. Adam was commenting on a good rant by Paul Bradshaw titled Let’s stop this ‘Curation is King’ crap right now.

…if curation is king in online journalism I guess I missed the coronation. Curation is a usurper, here to distract us from the bloody mess we’re in with the message ‘Business as usual’.

The future of journalism and publishing will not be curation, aggregation, the iPad OR mobile. It will be a strategic mix of these things and more depending on the market and the audience. As Adam says:

There is no easy answer, otherwise we’d have found it after over a decade. Complexity is the new reality. Clichés are just a crutch.

Clichés are much worse than that. Seemingly easy answers too often win internal debates, especially as Paul points out, some of these messages convey that ‘business as usual’ is an acceptable course of action.

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about multi-facted digital strategies that are generating growth for both the print and the digital for forward-thinking publications like the Christian Science Monitor and The Atlantic. The first comment on that post was “one word – iPAD!” The commenter isn’t alone: Mathias Döpfner, the head of German power publisher Axel Springer had this recommendation for his colleagues in the corner office:

Sit down once a day and pray to thank Steve Jobs that he is saving the publishing industry.

That’s the problem. Senior leaders in the industry aren’t looking for strategies, they are looking for a saviour. They want some supernatural – or in lieu of that, legislative – power to turn back the clock, put the genie back in the bottle, tax the internet and go back to the good old days when money just fell from the sky into their coffers. News flash: It’s too late. The good old days aren’t coming back. Anyone who tells you that you can continue doing what you’ve always done and that the solution is easy is lying. They care more about their current position than they do the future of journalism.