Tim Porter is back and challenging establishment thinking

One of my all-time favorite media bloggers is Tim Porter. He’s inspired me to think differently about journalism, and inspired me to encourage my colleagues to think differently — to challenge our comfortable assumptions about who we are and what we do.

After months of no new posts from Porter, I called him late one night (probably too late) a few weeks ago to find out what was up — why no new posts? It turns out, he was busy writing a book. We had a great hour-long conversation and it reminded me just how much we need Porter’s point of view in the media blogosphere.

It looks like Porter’s back, and one of his first posts goes right to the heart of challenging traditional journalism thinking. The simple title is “The Real Heroes of Newspapers.”

Newsroom budget cuts are routine these days (and will remain so for some time). It’s also routine for top editors to resign before, or amid, these reductions, throwing their careers on the swords of journalistic quality.

These martyred journalists – Dean Baquet, late of the L.A. Times and now relocated in the N.Y. Times Washington bureau, is the poster child for them – are hailed as heroes by their colleagues (whom they’ve left behind in the trenches) and some of their peers (who perhaps see a similar fate in store for them).

What hogwash. Journalists are celebrating the wrong heroes.

The real heroes of newspapers are those journalists who stay. The real heroes are the editors (from large papers like Atlanta or small ones like Bloomington) who are reconfiguring their newsrooms. The real heroes are reporters like those in Bakersfield who are shooting video while reporting. The real heroes are photographers like Fred Larson of the San Francisco Chronicle who using a blog to teach his readers how to make extraordinary photos like his.

Only one certainty exists: That future will belong to those who build it. Walking away isn’t the answer. Staying, working the problem, finding solutions, making hard choices, learning to think differently – those are the answers. And the people who do that are the real heroes of journalism.

Tim, as usual, says it better than I could. Read the whole thing.

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