Bronstein: The future of news, and other buzzwords
Former San Francisco Chronicle Editor Phil Bronstein has taken on a new role at parent company Hearst Corp. that will involve, among other things, finding ways to keep the news business viable at a time when most people have classified it as a dying industry.Meanwhile, don’t expect the solution to come from him — or anyone else for that matter.
Here’s what Bronstein said in an interview in his office at the Chronicle on Friday:
Reuters: How does the newspaper business need to change?
Bronstein: How it needs to change? Anybody who tells you they have the answer to that question, or the answer to the question, “what’s the successful business model for journalism, is lying to you.” Because no one has it. People are doing things that may end up being right. Everybody’s reinventing, blowing up… You could write a great historical memo from an anonymous editor using only buzzwords that editors use in their speeches to the newsroom: “This is how you do it,” “We have to engage the reader more,” “We have to be more nimble,” “We have to be more Web-friendly.”
Bronstein also talked about the financial future of newspapers:”They’re not viable in their current mode. Some newspapers are still making a lot of money, relatively a lot less than they were. So at some point you’re not making any money and in fact you’re losing a bunch of money. And so then, who’s going to want to put up with that? Certainly not the new billionaires. How long ago was it that reporters were saying, ‘This was the savior?’ All these quirky pioneering billionaires were buying newspapers, and now you’ve got the billionaires saying, ‘What the hell are we doing. What were we thinking?’”
Photo/Reuters: San Francisco Chronicle reporters Lance Williams, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Bronstein (Second from right) walk to federal court house in San Francisco.