On Oct. 26, the Associated Press is taking the momentous step of removing the word “writer” from many of its bylines. The idea is a byline that in essence says, “The article you are about to read was created by John Smith, Associated Press Writer,” potentially mischaracterizes John, who may not be a writer at all. With all the digital platforms available to the AP, John may be a videographer, blogger, photographer or some other form of skilled journalist.
The change, of course, is somewhat tardy. As I had the opportunity to write last week and in previous posts, the blurring of journalism’s traditional lines is accelerating.
David Carr of the New York Times (yes, he is a writer) recently addressed this blurring while recounting the transfer of top-notch talent from traditional print media to the digital media world. The most recent journalist to move: Howard Kurtz, who left the Washington Post for the more spirited Daily Beast.
Kurtz follows Peter Goodman, who left the New York Times for the Huffington Post. Goodman follows Howard Fineman, who left Newsweek for ... you get the idea.
Meanwhile, as 2010 begins to wind down, AOL is making news as it reportedly considers the purchase of Yahoo! AOL already is hiring hundreds of journalists, expanding its Patch hyperlocal coverage and is pondering the purchase of a few newspapers. There is no telling what AOL will look like in 2011.
Carr points out that he remains partial to “the old school” of newspaper journalism, with its fact checking, editing and permanence. And there is some allure to this romantic notion.
But in the end, the AP has it right. It is going platform agnostic. Content is what matters most in journalism now. As Carr says, “News is the killer app.”