Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Horizon

A series from The Washington Post gives me hope that well-financed, ambitious journalism still has a place today. The Post’s series, “Half a Tank: Along Recession Road,” is a fascinating quilt of vignettes and photography that helps to humanize the nation’s worst recession since World War II.

Some say this caliber of journalism is not possible anymore. Critics say newsrooms’ tempered vision prevents such projects from becoming reality; in this uncertain age, newsrooms would rather “do more with less." Sadly, I venture to guess the pessimists – sometimes, I admit, I am one – are occasionally right. Media companies, instead of taking a collective first step into the New Era, act as lemmings. As a result, they are sometimes plagued with group-think, hesitation and inaction. Meantime, the industry continues to decay. When will it be too late? Is it already? (I sure hope not.)

Kudos to editors at The Post for finding some light in the fog. No doubt this was an expensive undertaking. And, to be fair, perhaps only a national publication such as The Post would be able to finance it. But I present this piece not as an isolated incident but as a representation of what journalism could be.

We are entering a journalistic golden age. For those who are brave enough to innovate, the next decade will offer unprecedented opportunity. I picture a day when video, photography, text, social networking and Web presentation will complement one another to tell compelling narratives. Newspapers will die, but what follows will offer more freedom. Who would not want to be part of the renaissance?

It will take time. There will be a difficult learning curve. But for those who dare to dream, the horizon offers limitless potential.

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