Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of returning to my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, to participate in a panel discussion about current issues in journalism. Before I reunited with my old reporting buddies, I took in our annual homecoming football game. Sorry, development office: I loved the band but was disappointed in the game results, as was this writer. But wait, maybe you had a different reaction, and would prefer the recounting of the game offered here.
I'm linking to two articles with predictably different takes on the game to raise one of the themes we tackled at the session, just as we do here and at other serious news organizations: has technology changed what you want from us? Are we heading, as one panelist wondered, toward a "journalism of affirmation," where readers and viewers seek out information that reinforces their point of view? What might that mean for that serendipitous moment when you pause before grabbing the remote or turning the page, and find that you were wrong, you are interested in the next story, which perhaps even changed your mind about an issue? And will the Internet change our traditional reporting methods, our job security, even the contribution news makes to our society?
I'm excited by the promise of the Internet for delivering news (and chances are, if you are reading this, I'm preaching to the converted). It's thrilling to develop new opportunities to tell stories and reach new viewers, who then can so easily reach back to us. (Another panelist, a newspaper reporter, said he gets a volume of feedback from his web writing that he never sees from articles that run in the paper.) And you've been great about writing in with questions and comments about our work here.
But is this a self-sustaining medium? Will news consumers devote time, maybe even money, to the offerings of reputable news organizations on the Web? Tonight, NBC News debuts its Netcast of the full Nightly, so to speak. It's a great opportunity for us to tap into a new audience. Will you be watching?