Journalist, this is your future

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A few reports from the front lines of the battle for journalism’s future (yes, it’s a hardship post, deserving of three weeks’ R&R in Phuket):

No journalist who works on staff anywhere is safe—including those at successful dot-coms. The kids over at Gawker who usually report on media layoffs are wincing from their own. That said, the most popular news sites are still hiring. Arianna Huffington has raised not $15 million, as previously reported, but $25 million for her white-hot Huffington Post. Dead-tree journalists are finding a home on Tina Brown’s Daily Beast. Writes John Koblin of the New York Observer:

These days, Ms. Brown’s aggregator site creates as many as 10 original stories a day, and the Beast’s roster of writers reads a bit like a list of the recently laid off. She’s like Schindler, in a skirt-suit.

But Tina Brown can’t save everyone from the camps. So what about the hordes of journalists exiting the profession? What will we turn to: underwater basket-weaving? Plumbing? Something involving…gasp…math?

American University journalism professor  Dave Johnson has an idea: video gaming. Reports FishbowlNY, Johnson thinks the skills of journalists could be used to

build a working “SimCity” model of Washington, DC, visualizing the federal buildings and placing avatars of elected and appointed officials in and around them…Beyond the platform interface, the goal is to attach vast databases of public information…Strong journalism — print, broadcast and new media – that relates these communities to Washington will be easy to find and new audiences will appreciate the relevance to their communities. Newspapers spend millions on NIE programs, but why not put the content in front of young users in the game space, using visualizations that help tell the story and engage the user on a deeper level?

Why not, indeed.

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