Social networking, instant news and digital media have rocked the face of journalism, for better or for worse, and things can never be the same. These topics and the future of journalism as a profession were up for debate at Journey Santa Fe's April 10 panel discussion, "The New News Media," moderated by former Washington Post columnist Judith Lawson. ---

Lawson was joined by SFR's own columnist Zane Fischer, Kreston Johnson of the Santa Fe Waldorf School's journalism department and Seth Roffman of Green Fire Times.

Despite trepidation about where journalism may be heading, the tone of the panel was generally positive or accepting of the internet's role in providing instant news bulletins. Johnson cited the April 8 avoidance of government shutdown as an example, commenting that thanks to the immediacy of digital media he was able to find out within minutes rather than the next day.

Panel consensus was that the future of print journalism may lie in long-form investigative journalism. Fischer noted that while daily newspapers have seen their audiences drop, alternative weeklies and magazines with a greater focus on investigative journalism have stayed strong. Fischer specifically cited Wired magazine as a publication that has thrived with investigative journalism.

How to make a profit from daily online journalism was raised as an issue needing to be confronted quickly for the sake of the profession. According to Fischer, only a few organizations such as The Huffington Post have successfully monetized online journalism. Roffman explained that Green Fire Times relies as much on donors as advertisers to remain a for-profit publication. *

Upon conclusion of the main panel discussion, the audience was turned to for questions. Topics included the relationship between journalists and the advertisers they rely on, how the media can help expose government corruption and the relationship between news and online social networking.

The panel agreed that social networking can play a positive role in spreading news. Fischer said that it can be useful in vetting information specifically of interest to individuals with like-minded online social circles.

Lawson remains concerned about the future of journalism, but hopes that continuing the conversation on the topic can help secure it.

"There is a flicker of hope in the dark," Lawson says. "But the most important thing is action. I would love to be involved in the ongoing activist discussion."

The panel was preceded by a short presentation from Leslie Lakind on social activist organization US Uncut. Lakind asked attendees to participate in US Uncut's April 15 protest against corporate tax dodging at Santa Fe's Bank of America.

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*SFR transcribed notes related to this event with care and accuracy and did not intend to misrepresent Mr. Roffman's views or incorrectly attribute any remarks to him. SFR regrets the confusion.