The trouble with print journalists

Paul Conley made me laugh. A commenter wrote: “I’m going to forward it to people who will get angry about it :)”

Conley wrote:

But the worse news for print-based journalists is that much of the Web journalism world wants nothing to do with them.

What print journalists don’t seem to understand is that:

a) A lot of Web folks are pretty tired of print folks. Nearly everyone who works in Web-only or Web-first journalism came from a print background. And for years they toiled in places where the online world was treated with disdain. Then, as Web journalism took off, the online staff found themselves in an all-new form of hell. Every day was filled with the whining, complaining and resentments of the print staff. I assure you — the Web journalists who have managed to escape that scene are not eager to start hiring the same moaning characters they left behind. The big secret of Web journalism is that it’s fun. And we don’t want anyone to spoil that.

b) A lot of Web folks think print folks are kind of lazy and stupid. Every Web journalist on earth has put in the time to learn how to be a Web journalist. No one taught it to them. They taught themselves. They put in the extra hours, took courses, read books, talked to smart people and looked for answers. And they did all that because they knew that Web journalism was important. Print journalists, on the other hand, tend to think that they themselves are important. They’re the sorts of people who, even as their publications collapse around them, think the boss should invest in training them in the new skills. Web folks don’t want to hire anyone like that. Because Web journalists know that six months from now when something new comes around the print guy is going to be demanding more training.

Run light, run fast. Have fun! That’s about it.

Mindy McAdams hopes “remedial brown bag lunches” might help (but most are too busy to come)…


  1. Jack,
    I do not doubt that there is a lot of truth to the assessment of the two journalism camps (even though it seems a bit harsh). Oddly enough, I am not sure that either the current generation of web journalists OR current traditional print journalists have a clear vision of where all this is headed. I seriously doubt that print or web journalism will look the same as it does now in a few years…assuming that both camps realize that fact and don’t self destruct in their separate silos.

  2. Yeah, I think you are right about places where Web and print are highly integrated. Conley was talking about attitudes at Web-only outfits, although it applies to a degree. Maybe some of that is “what, you want to play in my sandbox,” but it’s also true there is a turf war going on as print journalists are realizing lack of Web experience could be quite career limiting. Some have become instant experts with predictable acumen. It’s a funny time. As to the vision thing, I certainly am not sure where it is all headed. I do know it won’t look like the road we’ve been on.

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