Trying to animate a dead corpse: Why those in journalism don’t get it.

Imagine you lived in a nice mansion for years, and then one day, bombs hit your mansion, turning it to rubble and contaminating the ground, making the entire area uninhabitable.

What do you do?

The area is toxic. The foundation is shattered. The structure is broken, and even the ground is radioactive.

Do you go back to the rubble, scour Pinterest for a few ideas on making it look rustic, and ignore the radiation seeping into your system?

If you are sensible, you see that there is no more mansion. There is no more using contaminated wood, concrete, metal, anything. Even the soil is poisonous.

But to journalists, they are trying to see the idea that nothing has happened, and everything is just fine, thank you very much.

Newspapers are done. Television is losing advertisers in droves — at least someone in that article realizes the healthy economy is not trickling over to their neck of the woods.

The amount of rot outweighs anything healthy. There is a point of no return, and that chroniclers of reality fail to see their own says everything you need to know about its demise.

But the way the Pollyanna enablers are trying to convince people their broken shack is perfect is breathtaking.

Journalism unConferences trying to pretend they do it differently, but in such childish terms it is shocking. Here is one blurb for a previous year:

A full unconference experience. It’s like a conference, only better

Connect and share ideas with bright and innovative minds – from journalism professionals to members of the journalism consuming public and everyone in between. 

With tracks on Truth, Transparency, Community and Innovation the event is sure to be massively engaging, dynamic and exciting. 

Held in tropical Miami, we are bringing together all the stakeholders of the journalism ecosystem for a weekend of interactive sessions, networking events, and compelling presentations designed to spark conversation & unleash innovation.

This is vague nothingness. Engaging? Dynamic? Exciting? Is that how coroners describe autopsies? This isn’t Disneyworld, and pretending that an “unconference” isn’t a conference for slackers averse to reality is a knee-slapper, albeit an patronizing one.

Would you think journalism had any trouble with that teaser? Or that they should actually have been holding a wake for their profession?

And the groups associated with such façades are equally obvious. They may have “teams“, but they do nothing, produce nothing, solve nothing, and prove nothing.

These are positions to pad a résumé, nothing more.

FourthEstatePBC-unconference

A “public benefit corporation“? What does that mean? How does a public benefit from a profession you didn’t resurrect?

It is empty catchphrases, and for all the talk about being different, it is all unoriginal by-the-numbers pabulum that journalists are supposed to expose as mere narrative, not mimic.

They talk about a journalist’s “creed“, and some old school-superhero-y babble that did the profession in the first time, completely missing the point: journalism collapsed. Charity organizations and conferences don’t save dead professions. Conferences are for networking and keeping up with the latest doublespeak in the field, along with having one night stands with people looking for some off-the-leash fun away from their nagging spouses who are the ones who actually pay the bills.

When your product is indistinguishable from the cheap knock-offs, conference time is over.

You have a crisis. You do not think up mission statements or beg the government for money. You have to fundamentally change. 

You have to look at that bombed out mansion on the toxic ground and see it.

Not escape in some clubhouse, complaining how the mean old world is telling you your mansion has been bombed back to the Stone Age.

You cannot animate a dead corpse. You cannot function is a pile of rubble. No new organization that tries to reanimate a dead profession is going to do it.

You have to start all over without the middle-management games of procrastination and escapism.

There are no titles or paper crowns. It’s all work, not decrees.

It’s why a dead profession has hundreds of little groups like this — all fighting for a piece of that radioactive rubble, thinking they can get somewhere with it.

It has collapsed beyond repair.

And it’s time to face it.

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