He deserves credit for trying to lift, cajole, influence, motivate and/or wake up that section of traditional reporters and editors he calls curmudgeons.
Because I worked for and even with some grand curmudgeons during 30 years in journalism, I offer a few unsolicited curmudgeonly views on Buttry’s blog. Most relate to comments it generated from the Luddite Legion still running too many American newsrooms and newspapers, different as each is.
He’s entirely correct and you must love his passion and his commitment to screaming loud and frequently enough to be heard — and still he’s three or four years too late.
How ironic that journalists praise him for prescience. He’s like the French colonel riding hopelessly on his black steed, saber drawn, charging at German tanks in the blitzkrieg.
The agreement and hope stemming from his blog is refreshing for anyone who reveres the First Amendment and loves newspapers. Would that he wrote this years ago. Maybe he did, but journalists as a class weren’t listening.
That some reporters and editors admit to only recently patching in to Twitter, or even not yet, screams the problem. Facebook is eight. Twitter is five. Email came into widespread use via the Internet in the early 90s, almost 20 years ago.
And yet gleeful journalists herald Buttry’s urgings to embrace social media now, while proclaiming their optimism for the institution of newsgathering?
But having left the rigid confines of newspapers almost six years ago, as many of my mentors did before me, for public affairs work, I can certainly testify that more journalists need to raise their heads above their foxholes. Now.
You’re already too late. But go for it. These methods of communication are not experiments you need to analyze and deem worthy or not. The internet is the highway and social media is the internal combustion engine. Get down off your high horse and throw away your buggy whip.
If you truly want to embrace communications in ways that will help you survive this crisis and thrive, cut most of your story lengths by 80 percent — write 10 four-inch stories a day instead of one 40-incher; use more Instagram and less Kodak; don’t tell us the news, let us share the news with you — while you honestly act like you appreciate it.
Buttry’s right — 100 percent on the mark. But he gives journalists castor oil in an MRI world; he coaches them on a chalkboard while the competition reviews high-definition digital video; he urges them to the Titanic’s lifeboats when he knows only a few will find seats.
Facebook paid $1 billion for Instagram, a few weeks after the once-mighty Philadelphia newspapers — the Inquirer and the Daily News, worth $600 million in 2006 — sold for $55 million.
Someone with passion had to say it. Buttry did. God love him. Will you survive? Will you journalists save thyselves?