On the shoulders of Tigers

We were greeted with unexpected guests last Friday.

The class of 1960 joined us for our daily pitch meeting at the Missourian.  As one Mizzou alumnus said, “You’re the best and the brightest.  That’s what they tell us,” she said, “and we believe them.”

They believe in us, in my generation.

They have seen the news, and it’s disheartening, they said.  We must fight to continue to deliver to our readers and viewers not only what they want, but also what they need, they told us.

It’s an enormous responsibility attached to journalistic endeavors.  Our roles as gatekeepers have diminished, or been redirected, in the information era, but we as an industry still shoulder the weight of deciding what people need to know.

As Schneller says, “We inform, empower, and entertain our readers.”

What connects those three initiatives is what I would argue is our fourth job: guide.  We guide information to them to inform and entertain; reciprocally, we guide them to information so they are empowered to take action or simply be a part of the conversation.

I spoke with Jim Irwin, 30-year veteran sportscaster for the Milwaukee Brewers and the Green Bay Packers (his 1996 Super Bowl XXXI ring was still shiny).  He said he could turn on his computer to check email and little else, but he reads the Missourian online whenever he can.

“And that’s the problem,” he said.  “How can we get people to pay for online content?”

I assured him that the topic was addressed daily in each of my classes.

“We’re working on it,” I replied.

It’s inspiring to know that the giants upon whose shoulders we are standing are equally invested in finding solutions and embracing new methods to solve old problems.   As I empower readers, so too have the alumni empowered me and fortified my commitment to join the struggle to leave American journalism better than it is today.

Dark days loom ominously on the horizon; situations may worsen before our publics accept new models ($) and creative strategies.  I am willing to be part of the education, implementation and resurrection of journalism, regardless of the forms in which it may manifest itself.

The support of those Mizzou alumni who can’t quite see the horizon lifts us up in order that our generation may harness the sunrise.

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