I remember when I first starting teaching journalism way back in the day actually using one of those stinky, buzz-inducing ditto machines to publish my students’ work “widely” up and down the hallways. I remember copy-editing by hand with green Flair pen, the same color my dreaded college journalism professors used, teaching my kids the fine art of marking up each other’s stories and adding suggestions for improvement. And I remember buying about 15 copies of various newspapers every Friday just so we could all spend some time getting our fingers black with ink as we searched for interesting and/or well written stories.

When I think of those days, I feel really old, for sure, but I also feel amazed at how much has changed in terms of media. And now, when it seems that “old” media is finally tipping full force into a “new” digital media model, I have to say I’m somewhat wistful.

Ok. I’m over it.

Yesterday’s New York Times piece by David Carr “Mourning Old Media’s Decline” got me really thinking again, however, about how much more important journalism has become in these days when newsrooms are being cut and reporters laid off. The Christian Science Monitor is closing its print edition. The Los Angeles Times, Newark Star-Ledger and others are making deeper cuts. All of which is going to increase our reliance on not only online media but participatory online media, the form of media that is largely unedited, essay-driven and agenda-ridden. All of which, by the way, should be driving our conversations about how to fundamentally rewrite our curriculum and our delivery system to prepare students to be, um, participants both as readers and as writers.

I loved this graph from the article:

Stop and think about where you are reading this column. If you are one of the million or so people who are reading it in a newspaper that landed on your doorstop or that you picked up at the corner, you are in the minority. This same information is available to many more millions on this paper’s Web site, in RSS feeds, on hand-held devices, linked and summarized all over the Web.

The problem for us is that we’re still teaching like our kids are going to be reading those edited, linear, well-written newspapers when the reality is they’re not. And the bigger problem is that, by and large, we still don’t know enough about the “new” media world in our personal practice to push those conversations about change in any meaningful way.

We better figure it out pretty quickly, or we’ll be mourning much more than old media…

(Photo: News by Kazze.)