The newsroom as we know it is gone. A recent monster report, Post-Industrial Journalism, Adapting to the Present, published by The Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University’s J School and co-written by C.W. Anderson, Emily Bell and Clay Shirky, calls itself part survey and part manifesto. It is not about the future of the news industry, “both because much of that future is already here and because there is no such thing as the news industry anymore.”

The report goes on to state, “If you wanted to sum up the past decade of the news ecosystem in a single phrase, it might be this: Everybody suddenly got a lot more freedom. The newsmakers, the advertisers, the startups, and, especially, the people formerly known as the audience have all been given new freedom to communicate, narrowly and broadly, outside the old strictures of the broadcast and publishing models. The past 15 years have seen an explosion of new tools and techniques, and, more importantly, new assumptions and expectations, and these changes have wrecked the old clarity.”

When I was a kid, we took a class trip to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and like a nascent actress onstage for the first time, I was bitten hard by the journalism bug. The white tower on North Broad Street in Philadelphia, spitting distance from the seat of city government and all the major businesses of the city, proudly stood as a shining landmark in the center of a major urban area. Floor after floor was filled with hard charging reporters clacking away at typewriters, squinting at one another through clouds of cigarette smoke, walls adorned with awards.

We went into the bowels of the building, where old men in aprons black with ink set the type. Deeper still, in the printing area, newsprint rolls were being gobbled up by the press, and finished papers soared upwards, streaming past by the thousands. It was a quite a thing; a powerful memory that lingers in sharp black and white.

I went on to become a writer, settling not at the Inky, and while some of my work was published in the paper, I chose a path that included radio, TV and other print outlets, eventually moving online, and building a career in communications and marketing.

That turned out to be a smart decision. Over the years, while my work remained steady, reporters dropped like flies. Newsroom budgets were squeezed hard. The press moved to the suburbs, destroying that direct connection between the writing and the urgency of the machine, always needing to be fed content. It was probably a defining moment, but no one knew it at the time.

Over the years I visited colleagues at the paper, each time feeling less enchanted. Entire floors were vacated.  Then there was the last time I walked through the Inquirer’s offices while it was still in the white building. It was a graveyard, the energy sucked right out of the rooms. There was a yellow-gray cast to the air. It was dead, but those still working hung on, waiting for their pink slips. No one thought to shut the whole thing down. Somehow, management felt that the revival was just around the bend. A series of moves meant to resuscitate did little. Management created an online presence, but did it by placing the cart before the horse, and by cluttering up the site with countless ads. Losing sight of the big picture, like a ship gone permanently off course.

The target audience for the traditional newspaper is your mother. She’s still clipping articles and mailing them to you. These days, if I have to print something out, I consider it a failure.

So where are we going? More than ever, people want information. It’s just that there is no gatekeeper, except maybe Google. And an algorithm is no Editor in Chief. Here’s the great news: this fractured world of information is up for grabs. You can publish online and have as much clout as a seasoned journalist. There is no one left to impress except your readers.

And that is the opportunity for organizations trying to reach that audience. By embracing those old journalistic principles – but NOT their business model – you can inform and engage your customers.

Because they will always crave information.