By Dennis Clemente
What is the future of journalism? This blogger could not find it in 15 minutes, because it was tucked away in a corner of a crowded Cosi in Union Square.
Ten people confirmed for “Sharing Visions for the Future” last February 6, but only four eventually showed up at the meetup organized by Ali Al-Ebrahim, co-founder of presseract.com, a news aggregation site he likes to call the “iTunes for news.” That remains to be seen.
The meetup was made more intense and combustible with only four people dissecting what is perhaps the most alarming and sensitive question for all journalists to answer, “What is the future of journalism?”
It made for a three-hour long heated debate among Ali, Jay, Pam, Stephen and this blogger; others more upfront, the rest simply reacting.
Stephen came to the meetup wih a legitimate pliant about the lack of substantial news coverage, particularly on TV. He mentioned how even Jersey Governor Chris Christie could not even get New Jersey talked about more by media, citing the more than 80,00 businesses affected, if not totally shut down, by Hurricane Sandy.
Jay, a psychologist, was concerned more about how the Internet has affected his business, claiming how “impossible” it was to rank on Google these days. He talked about the demise of his publications for lack of advertising revenue.
Pam arrived with news that the magazine she was freelancing for was laying off staff. Time Inc. has started shedding staff in its business department early last week, editorial is reportedly next. She turned out to be the voice of reason in the meetup.
Only Ali seemed unaffected. As the only tech person in the room with a platform to promote, he had no choice but to keep the peace. After all, he is running a news aggregation site where the people he has assembled face an uncertain future.
Asked about his closest competitor, Ali takes a pause before declaring Rebel Mouse (rebelmouse.com).