John Paton is the CEO of a newspaper empire and a man who sees the end of the old guard media on the horizon. He addressed what the future of news will look like in a speech to the Canadian Journalism Foundation this February:
We count our products in the hundreds. Our employees in the thousands – ten thousand actually. Our audience in the millions – 57 million actually. And our revenues are counted in the “Bs” as in billions…
And none of the above will save it or other companies like it – unless we and our industry profoundly change how we do business. You can’t fix what you won’t admit is wrong.
Paton is convinced that “print” newspapers are never coming back. As he sees it, the future is digital, and that means more than just a change of medium. The future is “participatory journalism” but getting there means the old guard must first abandon cherished notions:
You have to let go of those things we once held true. Like:
– We are the gatekeepers of information.
– That we are the agenda setters and that we decide what news is and what is not.
– And that we keep the Outside world outside and only let in the chosen few – people like us.
The era of media gatekeepers is ending. The new media is about adding value and participatory journalism:
The gate is forever open now. There is no longer a gatekeeper on community news. Communities will now value those institutions – like Twitter – that help the flow of news and those – like us – that add context and reflect the values the communities themselves set.
Adding value to the new free-flow of news requires a new news organization.
Our journalism tied to the power of participatory journalism is in my opinion an unbeatable combination as we help communities make sense of the river of information on the web.
Andrew Breitbart intuitively understood the things John Paton is saying here. He was certainly no fan of the old media gatekeepers. He fought the agenda setters who tried to decide what was news and what wasn’t, often in keeping with their own political outlook. And he showed many of us that the internet was the great leveler between the old media and the new. We can all participate in the news media now, and the country and the world are better off for it.