Posted by: structureofnews | September 30, 2010

Rethinking Journalism

I’m off to give a talk at Hong Kong U on Rethinking Journalism on Thursday.  Not as far afield as Bhutan, but the leafy suburbs of Pok Fu Lam beckon.  It should be fun.

I’ll touch on why the industry is in such turmoil – not so much the business issues, but more the way our processes – in information gathering, analysis, and communication (and value creation, of course) are undergoing seismic changes.  And talk about what are core values/roles for journalism, what’s just habit or history, and how we need to think about those processes going forward.

Hoping for good discussion, and for new ideas to be generated.



  1. HKU welcomes you!
    I wish I had a teacher like you when in J-school.

  2. Hi, Reg, I am a journalism student at HKU who just went to your talk. Thank you for the presentation and it was very impressive. However, I feel like we need to become superman/superwoman to be good journalists. Anyway, I will work hard toward it. Your talk gave me some guidance and instructions on how shall I make efforts. Thanks again.

    • Haotao, thanks for attending. And no, you don’t have to be a superwoman to a good journalist – but you do have to keep open to new ideas and stay on top of new trends and tools.

    • @Haotao, you have been very hard-working already. Beyond that you need to find your own niche. I was just like you 9 months ago sitting in a T-classroom in a crowd listening to Reg’s talk (he didn’t have a blog yet back then and I had nowhere to comment yet!).

  3. Hi,

    I’m one of the MJ students that attended your speech today. I quite enjoyed it although I felt because of the time constraint you were forced to merely touch the surface of these topics (a pattern seemingly present in most speeches I’ve attended @ HKU).

    I liked the fact that you don’t think that the iPad will be a game changer, I mean Apple could market a brick of shit and people would still take it to bed with them at night (its downright scary how good they are at this).

    What I found intriguing was your notion on rethinking the newsroom, not just a simple reshuffle but I recall you saying something like blowing it up and rebuilding, or something along those lines.

    Since the newsroom is the key component in the day to day operations of any given news outlet, could you possibly rub your crystal ball and share what kind of changes would be essential in the newsroom, to make work more streamlined and the outlet more competitive?

    • Henri, I don’t think anyone really knows how the newsroom will evolve – or be rebuilt. But it seems unlikely that a structure designed a half-century ago is optimized for a new age. I touch on some thoughts about newsroom organization on this blog, but I guess the fundamental issue I have is that we need to learn to get past the creation of story as the basic unit of journalism; that’s not to say that we should stop doing stories, but that we also need to develop ways to take the information we have and build it into structures that we can access again – as the Muckety people do – in multiple ways. I do think new newsrooms will be smaller, and much more focused on single areas, and team up with others covering complementary areas. And while they’ll be creators of that day’s “news product” (stories, video, tweets, whatever), their equally important mission will be to develop and maintain larger storehouses of information (ie, databases) that will likely feed into a variety of longer-lived products. But hey, that’s just a guess.
      As for touching the surface – well, the idea of the talks is to give a wide variety of perspectives and ideas, and you can only cover so much in the time.
      Thanks for attending, and for commenting. Reg

  4. You haven’t touched upon the ‘smaller newsroom’ idea much in the previous posts – I will be interested to read more on that.

    Not sure if niche journalism has got some successful cases/business models, but is one of the best bilingual environmental journalism sites in China. I’ve talked to its managing editor, they really have a very small team but they do pretty good original reports (with a larger volunteer team doing translation). However, again, it is a non-profit project subsidized by a foundation.

  5. Sounds like a great presentation and discussion, Reg. Sorry Regina and I weren’t able to make it across town to be there. Look forward to talking about some of this when we meet.

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