Drawing on his thirty years in newspapers, the former editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail examines the crisis of serious journalism in the digital era, and searches for ways the invaluable tradition can thrive in a radically changed future.
John Stackhouse entered the newspaper business in a golden age: 1980s circulations were huge and wealthy companies lined up for the privilege of advertising in every city's best-read pages. Television and radio could never rival newspapers for hard news, analysis and opinion, and the papers' brand of serious journalism was considered a crucial part of life in a democratic country. Then came the Internet...
After decades as a Globe journalist, foreign bureau chief and then editor of its Report on Business (not to mention former Scarborough delivery boy), he assumed one of the biggest jobs in Canadian journalism: The Globe and Mail's editor-in-chief. Beginning in 2009, he faced the unthinkable: the possible end of not just Canada's "national" newspaper, but the steep and steady financial decline of newspapers everywhere. A non-stop torrent of free digital content stole advertisers and devalued advertising space so quickly that newspapers struggled to finance the serious journalism that distinguished them in a world of Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Yahoo and innumerable bloggers and citizen journalists. Meanwhile, ambitious online media aspired to the credibility of newspapers. The solution was clear, if the path to arriving at it was less so: the new school needed to meet the old school, and the future lay in undiscovered ground between them.
Having led the Globe during this period of sudden and radical change, Stackhouse continues to champion the vital role of great reporting and analysis. Filled with stories from his three decades in the business, Mass Disruption tracks decisions good and bad, examines how some of the world's major newspapers--the Guardian, New York Times--are learning to cope, and lays out strategies for the future, of both newspapers and serious journalism, wherever it may live.