We've shown that journalists have both opportunity and justification for redefining their roles. In a landscape of intense competition, news organizations need to consider options that would make their organizations unique. Competing head-to-head with the Web sites that aggregate news seems fruitless. Instead, journalists could consider the following options:

1. Lose the emphasis on being "first"

In Warp Speed, Rosenstiel and Kovach note that in today's media, the organization that has the news "first" is only "first" for a matter of seconds. 1 Given that reality, why rush to break the news in the first place? The reader is unlikely to notice, and the risks of producing inaccurate and incomplete reports have been documented throughout this paper.

2. Focus on context

Instead, journalists could focus on offering complete information. Editors at a recent convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors heard similar advice from Andrew Grove, founder and chairman of computer chipmaker Intel. 2 By spending more time on stories, reporters could break news out of the "conflict frame" that oversimplifies issues into petty battles, and they could be less likely to focus on misleading statistics.

Journalists interviewed for this project insist they take the time to be accurate. The challenge for them in refining their role is to insist on the time to provide context as well.

3. Focus on local news

"The better TV news stations spend a considerable amount of time hammering out local news," said a television journalist interviewed for this paper. "Why? Because usually by 11 p.m., most people have seen and heard it all about what's going on in the world." 3

Local news, in other words, is one way to stand out from the other news options offered in the course of a day. The wire services that have filled newspapers and broadcast news for so long are now available through so many services on the Internet. Local news is not, and local newspapers and television stations can use their unique coverage areas to their advantage.

4. Make multimedia companies

Fighting against the control of large media companies is pointless and perhaps counterproductive. Companies that work in print, television, and online ventures have tremendous advantages. Also, one could argue that advertisers and other business concerns have a greater impact on a small operation in which the loss of one advertiser is devastating.

With the Internet giving anyone the ability to be a publisher, small operations can still act as a conscientious watchdog for news organizations. The non-traditional sites such as Slashdot and other reader-participation sites, though, may not be the best avenues for such underdog ventures. On these sites, the elitism of rich media companies is simply replaced by the elitism of those who dominate the sites with their time and vitriol. A better alternative might be found in the local weekly newspapers that have thrived in recent years. 4

5. Fight fragmentation by selling information to the aggregators

At the same time, news organizations could continue to sell their news to "portal" sites such as AOL and Yahoo. The resale of news has precedent through history; the Associated Press exists in part to distribute news from newspaper to newspaper, and most major newspapers are affiliated with a wire service that sells its news to other papers. 5 In addition to the business advantages, the presence of major news organizations on "portals" adds credibility and serves as a stabilizing influence amid a fragmenting audience.

6. Shed the "paper of record" mantle

On their own sites and in their reporting, news organizations can take more steps toward being unique. With the "portals" taking responsibility for presenting a complete picture of the world and governments putting their own information on their own Web sites, journalists should consider themselves liberated from the responsibility of being a "paper of record." Local news organizations can downplay the routine stories of community life and take a more aggressive and adversarial tone, giving them opportunities to cover stories that do not have a place in the reigning philosophy of appealing to all parties. Politicians are free to say as much as they like on their own Web sites, and as long as journalists maintain the practices that make them credible, they will keep the audience.

7. Maintain the traditions that add value

Finally, journalists should maintain their traditional practices of filtering news, challenging assertions, and offering analysis. The journalists interviewed for this paper suggested that these skills are valuable, and nothing in this paper suggests otherwise.