I find the current state of the news industry a fascinating thing to watch. In that way, it’s much like a 12 car pile-up or a dumpster fire.
Here are a few items on the subject that I have found highly interesting.
- Dan Conover wrote a piece called The Newspaper Suicide Pact a few weeks ago, and it really seems to have gotten a lot of traction. It was even Boing Boinged a few weeks ago. I’ve wanted to talk to Dan about his experiences looking at the future of newspapers for the Charleston Post and Courier and then having all recommendations ignored. What I really like about this piece is that he points out a fact I think is really important. In all these pro-newspaper articles they are really arguing the positives for a newspaper industry that hasn’t existed for a long time. There are very few plucky rumpled beat reporters wearing out the shoe leather doing investigative reporting so if your argument for newspapers involves this sort of romantic self-image, it ain’t reality.
- My AmigoFish recommendation feed dropped in this episode of the show Dave Winer and Jay Rosen do together called Rebooting the News. In it, Rosen discusses his “Church of the Savvy” analysis and I found it brilliant. I hope he writes it up soon so I can point to it. He points out that many current practitioners of journalism place their highest value on their own savviness, their own ability to be insiders and to understand the game. It really explains the mechanism for phenomena like the lousy process heavy horse race campaign reporting we get. The reporters don’t want to test the campaign claims against reality, they want to talk about “whether or not they will play with public” and whether they will “move the needle.” I thank Jay Rosen for giving me a cognitive framework for my disgust with the state of reporting. It doesn’t make it better, but it explains why it is this way.
- Bruce Sterling blogs about this article in the New York TImes that covers the shocking news – shocking I say – that some blogs are started and then abandoned. The subtext is unmissable – “Look at these blogs that don’t even keep going! How can you even compare us to them?” When not giving itself a romanticized self-fluffing, the newspaper industry spends its time finding things to point to as being worse than it. Stay classy, New York Times! As much as people revere that paper, it means absolutely nothing to me in my life. I could care less if it stays afloat or sinks.