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The next big thing in journalism

At BusinessWeek, we're engaging our readers in new ways. Here's what we've learned.

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Print media are reeling. The pace of financial losses and massive layoffs is accelerating. Panic is setting in.

It's easy to blame the Web for this bleak picture. But the same disruptive technology that has caused such dismay in print is also ushering in the most creative period in the history of journalism.

If this were the Renaissance, the Web would be Florence, a place of amazing experimentation where all the old mediums – in this case, print, radio, and television – suddenly converge in one dynamic and democratic place. Yet, the multimedia dimensions of digital journalism are only part of the story. The most powerful attribute of this new journalism is how it directly engages our readers as active participants at every stage of content creation.

For the past year, this has become the passion and focus of BusinessWeek, where I serve as executive editor: It's to reinvent journalism as a process that involves the reader in the front end, to advocate story ideas; in the middle, to inform the reporting of a story; and in the end, to expand on the conversation a story creates. That latter conversation is not a letter-to-the-editor monologue, but rather a dialogue between the professional writers and the audience.

In the early 1960s, Tom Wolfe and other talented writers created the New Journalism. It cleverly deployed the techniques of great fiction to news and feature writing. Today's direct engagement with readers is the antithesis of Mr. Wolfe's self-centered narrative inventions. Call it the "New" New Journalism.

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