Meet a traditional editor who understands how media is changing

When I first started reading Louis Hochman’s column, I thought, “Oh, gee, here we go again: more whining from the cranky old journalist brigade.” He starts:

Well, it seems like the future of journalism-as-we-know-it may be safe after all. At least, that’s what I glean from our absurdly unscientific reader poll this week.

We asked readers what they think of blogs, as alternatives to traditional media. …

Not a promising beginning.

I’m glad I read to the end.

But if the rise of the blogs has taught those of us in the traditional media anything, it’s that there’s a value in everyday discourse we’ve long ignored. The long-standing practice of grabbing a man on the street for a quick soundbite provides for some nice window-dressing on a story, but most conventional news outlets have always depended on the muckety-mucks, talking heads and power brokers for meaningful dialogue. The enthusiasm with which the user-generated media has exploded reminds us just how much conversation has been going on beyond our earshot, and how anxious those typically ignored have been to have their say.

Some people say the media as we know it is bound to die off. I say it’s bound to evolve. We’ll see a point where new media eclipses old, for just a small while – and it becomes clearer than ever just what the traditionalists had to offer. It’s on the pendulum’s backswing, when we learn to incorporate the best of tomorrow’s journalism with the best of yesterday’s, that things will get truly interesting. I, for one, can’t wait for it to happen.

Obviously, Mr. Hochman gets it. I think he summed up well a few of the valuable contributions blogs and other UGC offers to media and journalism. He’s gotten more than the surface value, but the nuance, too.

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