Newspapers move to next stage of the Kubler-Ross model for death & dying 9/16/07Posted by Steve Boriss in Uncategorized.
In her classic 1969 book “On Death and Dying,” Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified five discrete stages that the terminally ill must pass through to come to terms with their demise — a pattern now recognizable in the ailing newspaper industry. Stage 1 is “denial” that their days are numbered. This line of thought was captured most memorably in September, 2004, when former CBS News executive Jonathan Klein dismissed the idea that bloggers could be a threat to real journalists by flippantly claiming, “you couldn’t have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances, and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing what he thinks.” Stage 2 is “anger,” recently expressed by Pulitzer Prize winner Martin Skube, who less-than-artfully called bloggers “blockheads.”
Now, we’re on to Stage 3, “bargaining,” where the victim tries to strike a deal with God, or whoever else will listen, to delay or otherwise mitigate the fall to come. The would-be deal-maker is the indispensable Jeff Jarvis, who is working with journalists to develop joint professional-amateur (“pro-am”) techniques known as “Networked Journalism.” These techniques will allegedly allow today’s journalists to hold onto their lofty roles, while satisfying the newly-empowered masses, who have suddenly been unleashed to fully exercise their freedom of speech following centuries of gatekeeping by news outlets. Although Jeff is extraordinarily capable, means well, and is perhaps engaged in a noble cause, he is likely to have as much success holding it all together as Mikhail Gorbachev did once his people got their first taste of Perestroika. While the good news is that the final stage is “acceptance,” the bad news is that it is preceded by “depression.” In other words, the future is looking less “pro-am” than “pro-zac.”