The demise of NJN has been a major bum-out, especially for political junkies; many of have come to see the station’s Jersey-centric coverage as more than essential for the little state caught between two huge media markets, but lacking a cohesive TV landscape of it’s own. To be sure, mainstays like Michael Aron’s On The Record and Reporters Roundtable will be sorely missed, as they have come to serve important functions for NJ’s political watchers and doers.
But let’s take a deep breath – because as a medium, television is both hurting and evolving; when it comes to news, even more so. What once used to be a time-sensitive ritual of getting in front of the TV set in time to watch one’s favorite show has ceded ground to the Internet, smartphones, time-shifted viewing and more. And while TV broadcasters used to be unique in their ability to create and spread content far and wide, that’s just not the case any more.
So in the spirit of making crisis into opportunity, let’s hope that the many talented, dedicated, insightful and resourceful folks who served this state so well for so long are able to find a path forward that keeps their important work alive while adapting to changes in the media landscape. Let’s see podcasts, and streaming feeds and social networking and stuff no one has yet invented. It’s not just an opportunity to pick up the pieces and try to find a way to move on – it’s a chance to flex with the times, grow and ultimately become better. Sure, there will always be those media consumers who are married to their TVs, but their ranks are dwindling and will ultimately disappear. So no, it’s never going to be the same as it was. But change – no matter how much it may suck at the time – can be good. And when it comes to media for New Jersey, by New Jersey, perhaps the best is yet to come. (And who knows? Maybe 20 people can do the work of 200 like the governor says. Also, maybe the sun will turn purple and put on sunglasses.)
Alternate, less saccharine ending: Governor Christie and those like him (Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, etc.) would like nothing more than to silence any outlet that might threaten their agenda of privatization and greater corporate control of American society. That includes New Jersey. Then consider the analog newspapers, and the increasingly choppy waters they must negotiate. It becomes simple, and something we all already know, because we’re living it: the traditional media landscape which defined the past has changed, and will continue to change, dramatically. And whoever is most flexible and adaptive to these changes will likely retain an indomitable edge when it comes to reaching people, and trying to convince them that your ideas are better than the other guy’s.
Better stay sharp.