Former Editor of the Detroit Free Press Caesar Andrews believes the journalism business will survive. And more than that, he thinks it will thrive.
At least that’s what Andrews, Washington and Lee University’s Reynolds Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism, said in a speech to a crowd of about 50 people on Wednesday.
Andrews, whose Detroit Free Press newsroom won last year’s Pulitzer prize for local reporting, said he foresees a new class of journalists- the ‘J-Team’ – who will save the industry – much in the same way the ‘A-Team’ from the 1980s action television series saved the world.
“Instability seems to be the rule of the day,” Andrews said. “But I don’t think for one minute that the business of journalism is down for the count.”
Andrews pointed to three areas of journalism where he found hope, and more than that, growth: business opportunities provided by the Internet, audience opportunities provided by a growing national population and reporting opportunities provided by new, fresh talent in the newsroom.
“[Talent is] the strongest resource in the news media’s future,” he said. “Freshly minted talent free of the baggage of the way news used to be.”
Andrews called for journalism students to tackle the industry with creative, energetic optimism. He said there would always be a need for professionals – trained reporters who continually go beyond the masses, including citizen journalists and bloggers.
But Andrews warned that he no longer believed the fundamentals of great journalism would single-handedly float news organizations by themselves.
That’s where creative thinking about advertising, news delivery and the expanding population comes in, he said.
“The Internet is not delivering the money now, but it’s important to realize [the Internet] is a revolution.”
When questioned about what he thinks will happen to print newspapers and online news publications, Andrews said he didn’t have “any one answer.” But he said he thought the news business was about to go through “seasons of change” as organizations began to experiment with new business models.
“There’s an urgency to the conversation now. People are forced to be a lot bolder,” said Andrews. “It’s about the forward-looking commitment of ‘what are we going to do?’”
What they should do, Andrews’ speech seemed to imply, is look to the new crop of journalists to replace lost experience with new-found professional innovation.