Monthly Archives: November 2009

A Public Can Talk to Itself: Why The Future of Journalism is Actually Pretty Clear

Nothing will replace newspaper companies or what they do. For the past few months an un-holy alliance has consumed the media nerds on Twitter as two traditional foes have attempted to etch the above idea into stone. For those who make (or used to make) a living in the newspaper industry, the idea is at the crux of nearly every editorial and is used as an argument to support micro payments, government funding, an illegal form of price fixing, and, you know, vice. For those outside the industry, the biggest rallying cry came from NYU professor Clay Shirky. He calls it the ╦ťgreat unbundling’ and asserts that there will never be another competitor to The New York Times; its pieces will be atomized and continue to spin into products like 538 and Craigslist

Shirky provides an extensive historical analysis to support his claim and while I agree with most of it, I think he ultimately misses the conclusion. Not only will the original mission of newspapers like the NYT sustain itself online, it will be revived in a way their founders could have never imagined. What’s lost in most discussions about the future of news is just what that original idea for a newspaper like the NYT really was and how the internet is in a unique position to execute it for the first time. Continue reading