Friday, May 28, 2010

Reunions coverage: “Journalism in the Age of New Media” forum

One of the first Alumni-Faculty panels of 2010’s Reunions focused on the future of journalism in the age of new media. Journalists have become more than familiar with such discussions, which Ian Shapira ’00, a reporter for the Washington Post, joked his colleagues had taken to calling “death panels.”

Also on the panel, which was moderated by Professor Paul Starr, were Drew Davis ’70, president and executive director of the American Press Institute, Kathleen McCleery ’75, deputy executive producer of PBS Newshour and Debi Chirichella ’85, COO of Conde Nast Digital.

“We’re working really hard on the Internet, but honestly…I don’t think it’s ever going to be a moneymaker, and if people truly transitioned from print magazines to the Internet, we’d be in trouble,” said Chirichella, picking up an iPad displaying the current cover of GQ, which features the barely-clad model, Miranda Kerr. “That’s why we’re interested in e-readers.”

Less than two days before, Conde Nast’s newly-launched Wired magazine iPad app sold 24,000 copies in the first 24 hours, at the newsstand price of $5 each. Some initial estimates for Wired’s app sales were as low as 2,500 copies.

Davis also described himself as a “big believer in electronic readers,” and said that the media industry ought to look into digital delivery.

As often happens in journalism’s “death panels,” which tend toward gloom and doom, the panelists concluded that though the business model was changing, journalism was around to stay.

“Hopefully, we’ll have the capacity to transform the magazine industry from print into the digital world and end up being able to provide the same kind of quality content — girls and all — that we have in the past,” said Chirichella.

“Storytelling is very, very old,” Shapira said. “It’s been around a long time, and it will survive.”

by Angela Wu