Josh Marshall, founder of the blog Talking Points Memo, addressed the campus Tuesday in Emerson Suites for the opening of the Park Center for Independent Media.
Marshall, who was introduced as the “proverbial guy in his pajamas working in his basement,” by Jeff Cohen, assistant professor of journalism and director of the center, began publishing his blog from his basement eight years ago during the Florida recount of the 2000 presidential election.
“The Web site had no money and no revenue for three years,” he said. “I had fantasies that an advertiser would come to me, but that was never the idea.”
In February, Marshall was awarded the George Polk Award for coverage of the eight United States attorneys fired by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Marshall was the first blogger to receive the award.
Marshall’s speech titled “The Importance and Future of Independent Media” focused on how news should be covered, what type of model should be used and how print journalism can deal with new technological innovations.
“We need indie media because the mainstream media has hurt journalism in the way that it prioritizes balance over accuracy,” he said. “This is the No. 1 problem. … News organizations need to make their model based on what’s most wrong in the world and not worry about who they’re offending.”
Not all of the daytime symposium events were open to the public, but students and faculty were welcome to attend three sessions, “Business, Revenue and Marketing Approaches,” “Independent Media Successes, Obstacles and Potentials” and “New Initiatives, Collaborations and Technologies.” In addition to Marshall, 25 other guests from colleges and media outlets, like Brave New Foundation, The Huffington Post and J-Lab, participated in the event.
These sessions allowed media experts like Hubert Brown, associate professor of broadcast journalism at Syracuse University, to share their ideas with incoming students to the center.
“It’s important to use journalism to report on issues, but we also need to use journalism to report on journalism,” Brown said at the event. “We should be able to turn that lens on ourselves.”
Cohen said he was pleased with the number of people who attended the event as well as the engaging discussions that ensued.
“These sessions allowed journalists to share their success stories and in turn learn from the stories of others,” he said.
Cohen took note of all the ideas presented by the symposium participants and plans to use their suggestions to shape the Center for Independent Media’s goals — to engage students and members of the media in discussing the role of and careers in the independent media.
Meg Rindsleisch, a freshman journalism major, said she was happy to hear Marshall’s optimism and his keen perspective on mass media.
“I found it to be very informative,” she said. “His perspective on the mass media didn’t take me by surprise, but I found it to be enlightening. He didn’t focus on the negatives but on the positives and what we as citizen journalists can do to make a name for ourselves.”
Marshall said he predicts many newspaper companies will be forced into bankruptcy, but print journalism, as a whole, will not collapse. He said the fallout of print journalism will inevitably lead to greater opportunities in online journalism and the independent media.
Marshall said the field of journalism is not exactly “profit central,” and making a decent living is a concern of many young journalists.
“Gather the necessary skills and then find a place that will pay you,” Marshall said. “Right now, I’d say it’s a terrible time for journalists, but a great time for journalism.”
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