Sunday, February 25, 2007

Wiki news won't work

In a recent post at Media Shift, Mark Glaser has some interesting views on the future of newspapers and journalism in general. While the idea is to promote discussion about how "newspapers can enter this new age while retaining their goodness, and remain relevant whether they are delivered online or via new devices or on dead trees," the thinking is way off in many respects.

Two examples:

The way it is: Editors assign stories to reporters.
The way it will be: The community helps with story generation through special online forums, blogs and other interactive mechanisms.

The way it is: We consider paid reporters and editors to be professional journalists and everyone else is an amateur with questionable skills.
The way it will be: We consider everyone to be potential journalists, and there are shades of gray between who is a pro and who is an amateur.

Overall, people are too lazy for this to become true. Nothing against the average citizen -- we all want to read the story, we all want it laid out for us, not work for it. If we get upset, we may write a letter to the editor. If we see something missing or wrong in a story, we might call up or email to point it out. But do not think for a second more than a hundredth of a percent of the public is interested in getting involved with the news more than talking to a reporter or perhaps sending in a photo or video. Pretty much the same as it is done today.

Yes, there should be changes. Some have re-thought things already and implemented changes, and the rest no doubt will eventually (or at least see the light on their deathbeds). Certainly, keep readers involved in a greater capacity than before. But the idea of the general public taking an active role in the news they read is akin to thinking everybody with a shovel will chip in with road repairs in front of their home.


Anonymous said...

John Q. Public has seen too many movies to really understand what journalism is truly about.

Anonymous said...

Get real. You know what you get with journalism by committee? Platypus news.

Anonymous said...

The above comments tell you all you need to know about why "pro" journalism is such a profession in free-fall.

The best journalist is a citizen with a pen. There are so many strawmen and gross overgeneralizations above to keep establishment journalism fat on its own hubris for years to come.

This does not mean that "everybody" will be, or wants to be, a journalist. All I mean is that the best journalist of the future is the same as the best journalist today: the journalist who knows his readers and delivers those readers information in the way that the readers want to receive it.

It amazes me that journalists have such a dim view of their own mealticket. The online model is not so different than the print model: i.e. something other than direct payments from readers will pay the freight. However, it is an environment which demands flexibility and adaptability.