I have been following the shifts in the news industry closely since the mid-‘90s when I was a graduate student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate NY. It was a heady time for journalists who grew-up with hot type and home delivery of a morning and evening newspaper: I read the Newark Star Ledger in the morning and the Elizabeth Daily Journal in the afternoon growing up in northern New Jersey. In the early ‘90s, Steve Outing started the online news listserv and the San Jose Mercury News distributed stories on the first AOL. I studied the innovative work of Internet’s early adopters, specifically the Albany Times Union, and championed the dynamic potential of a networked news environment.
The ensuing years were often painful ones, and my hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan has the distinction of being one of the first US cities to lose its only daily newspaper.
I hope that Brent Cunningham’s recent essay in the Sept/Oct issue of the Columbia Journalism Review is the beginning of the end of the “Death of the Newspaper” and “The Future of Journalism” genre. Cunningham’s work is one of the most insightful and progressive pieces about the present and future of American journalism that I have encountered. Citing James Carey, among others, he reclaims the genesis of news in this country. It starts with us, it ends with us, it’s up to us.