UPS in the post-scarcity economy

Brown bag lunches.

The phrase cultivates images more reminiscent of Pleasantville and ten-cent ice cream cones at the corner candy shop than a discourse on the future of journalism.

There were no red-and-white checkered blankets today, but two former RJI fellows shared their thoughts on the question that might be defining my existence at MU.

Where is journalism going and how do we get there?

Bill Densmore, via UMass where he directed the Media Giraffe Project, talked of the fairly popular move away from gatekeeping theory.  He argued for a new role as “information valets.”

Densmore declared our modern era the post-scarcity economy, where information is abundant, but insight isn’t.

He dreams of a place where one online persona can hold the information of social networks, online buying, online gaming – where ever you are online, this one persona is your identity.  And it could serve as the single bill for your Internet purchases.  Hello, convenience.

His most pressing concern – who runs this one persona?  Not Google. Not the government.  Those are obvious strikes.  But who?

Mike Fancher, former executive editor of the Seattle Times, echoed Missouri Medalist Sandy Rowe’s comments I shared in a previous post.

“We’re on the leading edge of a change so phenomenal it’s hard to fathom,” he said.  Francher urged everyone to “reimagine journalism for a networked world.”

“Journalism doesn’t need saving, it needs creating.” How?  Let’s start with Fancher’s push to promote research and collaboration.  If we don’t know what works in this new ecosystem, anything might.

Most importantly, Fancher stressed the role of the public at large.  If the purpose of journalism is to keep people free and self-governing, he said, everyone has a stake.

That’s everyone.

The UPS guy, my aunt, your grandma, his librarian, her teacher, my cousin’s church pianist, your cousin’s girlfriend, Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell.

Everyone.

Fancher argued – and rightly so – that in many cases the public has been left out or chosen to sit out of this conversation.  Let’s start crossing the aisles.  This isn’t Washington, but it would sure hit home there if journalism dies.

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