In early September, Meridian International Center was delighted to host three young Austrian journalists for a program showcasing transformations in American news media.
Participants visited Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York and Boston over a span of twelve days. The program focused on the emergence of social media platforms and aggregators, the decline of print journalism, and general best practices and operations employed by news media organizations. The journalists visited with professors, large print newspapers and tabloids, a foreign policy think-tank, young startups, non-profits, and well-established magazines. This comprehensive examination gave our guests a holistic view on the past, present and future of our bustling twenty-four hour news media cycle.
There were several highlights throughout the trip including visits at the headquarters of the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, NBC, Bloomberg, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Boston Herald. These larger outlets discussed how they have pivoted and reoriented their collective strategy away from print towards online and social media. Beyond the established “giants” of news media, participants also met with younger, emerging news media outlets like Trove, Vice and Mental Floss. These companies shared how they have been able to succeed within their target market and what they perceive as the next frontiers in news media.
For many of the past few decades the general outlook for news media has been resoundingly pessimistic. Much of this decline can be attributed to the slow death of newspapers which is, of course, not incorrect. Many of the sites we visited, however, were optimistic about new avenues and innovations for media in the twenty-first century—some even labeling it as the next great era of journalism. This program was able to demonstrate that democratic societies demand a functioning free press to ensure transparency.