Future of media aired

Leaders in digital see role for traditional journalism

NEW YORK -- Key new media executives on Wednesday discussed one of the hottest topics of the year in digital media -- how traditional and digital journalism can live side-by-side.

The panel discussion on the "Future of the Media" was part of Internet Week New York and was organized by the I Want Media blog.

Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chairman of Twitter, whose user base has exploded, discussed how Twitter has become a growing source for breaking news.

"Twitter is really good for man-on-the-street accounts," he said. "It's extremely immediate. ... I get a flavoring of what people are saying and what stories are interesting. I always get my news from Twitter trends first."

He did add, however, that the news component of the service is incomplete without traditional editorial standards. "One thing that's missing from it is the editorial; that's what I'm most excited about seeing in the future," he said. "Bringing journalistic integrity to this mass of messages is very important."

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, agreed on the key role of journalistic integrity even in the digital age. "Their biggest issue is trust, finding trustworthy sources for news and making sure to fact-check," he said. "That's what people like me will pay for, pay extra for ... and it will be the surviving factor for news in the future."

Alan Murray, deputy managing editor and executive editor online of The Wall Street Journal, raised eyebrows by saying that the idea of newspapers was old-fashioned and needs to change.

"Even the idea of newspaper deliveries is kind of stupid. ... The idea of cutting down all those trees then driving around in big trucks just to get the one paper on your lawn," said Murray. "We're a year or two away from seeing an explosion of devices ... capable of giving newspaper-like experience."

Meanwhile, Nick Denton, founder of gossip blog powerhouse Gawker Media, said many journalists will have a tough time adjusting to the new digital reality. "It would be very tempting to go out and hire 50 of the best people from newspapers and magazines, but the sad truth is a lot of those people don't adjust well to working online," he said.

Murray agreed that print journalists focusing on longer-term investigations or deep-dive analysis wouldn't make good bloggers.

None of the new media execs said they would ever sell their companies.

"I would never consider selling Gawker Media," said Denton. "As soon as you start to think about it, bad things happen." He added that "Craig has actually been my role model with this -- he's never considered selling it."

Newmark elaborated: "We are not interested in selling. … Right now, the community is not asking us for that, and we are strictly community-driven."

Twitter's Dorsey shared the same view. "We have a lot of work ahead of us," he said. "We don't have a sense that we're finished. We want to build something that's sustainable, that will really help change how we communicate. We don't feel another organization would really elevate that. We just don't feel that we're finished with our work."