AP's chief gives journalism's creative thinkers "authorization" to push it forward
By Nick R. Martin | December 4, 2007
My friend, the San Francisco-based journalist Khari Johnson, recently keyed me in to something I missed last month. It was a speech given in New York by Tom Curley, the head of the Associated Press. Curley is one of the few leaders of top-tier news organizations who, instead of bemoaning the changes in our industry, is excited about them. He gave the keynote speech Nov. 1 at a fund-raising dinner for a business and economics journalism fellowship at Columbia University.
"Young people the world over are hungry for news. They just
don't prefer our traditional platforms and packaging," Curley said. "The irony...is that the news is hot, but the news business is not," he added.
Among Curley's ideas and perspectives:
- Find the money to pay the journalists. "We
need money, serious money to pay for great reporters as well
as hire a few lawyers to keep our (journalists) out of jail."
- Focus on the bulletins and the brains. "The bulletins are the first 150 words, getting
the news out fast, in conversational radio fashion.
The brains are the people who can add real value whether through
perspective, deeper reporting or great writing. In short,
we need talent, a lot of it and some of it very different."
- Ditch the attitude: "Our institutional
arrogance has done more to harm us than any portal. We must
understand and embrace the new ways people...are consuming content."
- There is still a place in this world for the morning paper and the evening newscast. "But it is a smaller place."
- More people are looking for news more frequently. "All media platforms -- video, audio, digital
and even text -- are seeing growth."
My friend Khari, who is working on some of his own enterprising ideas, said about the speech: "It's authorization." Journalists who want to push boundries and try new things should be given the freedom to do so, he said. After all, if the head of the AP says "the inverted pyramid is dead," as Curley did in the speech, why can't the rest of us?