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April 10, 2015
‘Get Over It,’ The Washington Post’s Editor Says, ‘We’re a Digital Society’
 
For a steely-eyed look at the media present, we refer you to an appraisal by The Washington Post’s executive editor, Martin Baron, presented as the 47th annual Hays Press-Enterprise Lecture at the University of California Riverside this week. “Never have I seen a moment of so much excitement and so much anxiety,” Baron said, “Journalism is being thoroughly reimagined.”

And with it, PR has a lot of learning to do.

Baron came to The Washington Post from The Boston Globe early in 2013. He had led The Globe’s news organization to six Pulitzer Prizes over a decade. Before that, he worked 17 years at The Los Angeles Times, so he knows the news business thoroughly.

There’s no point in ruing that we have become a digital society, Baron said in his return to California. The Press-Enterprise report notes that digital reach gave Baron’s Globe worldwide impact in its investigation of sexual abuse in Boston’s Roman Catholic Diocese.

“If you think all that is great,” he said in Riverside, “it comes with an ironic twist. The very medium that enables this distribution (the Internet) is destroying the economic model that allowed the work to be done in the first place.”

“We just have to get over it,” he added, “We are a digital society. We are a mobile society.”

The Press-Enterprise report notes that The Post “currently has 47 engineers working in its newsroom to create new programs and applications. The company plans to launch an app for the Kindle Fire in coming weeks, Baron said.

So, as PR people, observe the digital transition as closely as you can and be ever-mindful of it. It will be critical to discover how the craft best fits into the new media setting.

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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