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Saving Journalism: from Obama to Pincus

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 9, 2009 at 4:36AM

President Barack Obama, at the end of his funny, barbed and self-mocking White House Correspondents speech, graciously thanked the assembled press corps for doing their jobs --even when he disagreed with them--and recognized that their profession was under duress. He wished them well as they reinvent journalism.
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President Barack Obama, at the end of his funny, barbed and self-mocking White House Correspondents speech, graciously thanked the assembled press corps for doing their jobs --even when he disagreed with them--and recognized that their profession was under duress. He wished them well as they reinvent journalism.

BusinessWeek writer Sarah Lacy, at the behest of Tech Crunch's Michael Arrington, has written a modest proposal for how the business weeklies can save themselves. While she obviously gets the reality of the situation, I am not sure the powers that be at these organizations will be willing to see it her way. I agree that her solution would work. And the same basic principles could apply to many other mags.

At lunch last week, one studio marketing exec and I were puzzling over Time, Newsweek and EW. And as I ponder my own future, I am aware that writing for print gave me not only an editor and a deadline that forced me to focus serious time on a column, but gravitas as well. The blog just isn't the same. When it's in print, it means more. To everyone. Said studio marketer doesn't mind Patrick Goldstein's daily rantings online. It's when they wind up in print in the LAT that she gets upset. Is this attitude? Habit? The fact that holding something tangible in your hand makes it more important? Print still does have an advantage (along with serious advertising dollars), if folks can only figure out how to make it dovetail economically with the faster online world.

People take many blogs and online publications seriously, from The Daily Beast (where editors and deadlines still apply) to WSJ.com, where you can find Kara Swisher's All Things Digital blog. She recently interviewed Sharon Waxman, whose online pub The Wrap is trying to compete inside the trade space. Waxman asserted at a recent Fest of Books panel that the trades "never break a story" and "there's no place to go for the essential information you need if you are in the business of TV and movies." Really? She waxes on:

Meanwhile The Washington Post's Walter Pincus, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, suggests that newspaper reporters and editors have been chasing the wrong goals, fame and glory, instead of serving their readers.


This article is related to: Marketing, Media, News, Stuck In Love


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.