all the news that fits we print….
What is news?
The first newspaper was printed in Germany in 1608, some 150 years after the invention of the printing press.
Its format, for the most part, has not changed since.
The newspaper was a child of Gutenberg’s technology –
That technology set the format for ‘news’ delivery. We gather in the information and ‘send it out’ to the public. Later iterations of radio and TV followed suit because those technologies were in many ways similar.
Now, along comes the web.
The natural inclination with any new technology is to plug in old models. Hence, if you go to nytimes.com you will see a newspaper, albeit on the web.
But the web is capable of much more. It is a fundamental transformative technology, much like the printing press, which enables an entirely new architecture.
What does it look like?
The primary characteristic of newspapers is distributive. That is, they distribute the same information to everyone. This is also the model for tv and radio.
But the primary characteristic of the web is an integrated community. Everyone can talk to everyone at the same time. Not the same as a newspaper, radio or TV.
Is it then possible to construct ‘news’ that is reflective of what the web does best?
That is, can we construct a ‘news’ architecture that is not about a few ‘reporters’ delivering information over yet another platform, but rather that is about everyone sharing information, and feedback, with everyone else?
Can this be a different and better kind of news?
John Proffitt, who I think is with a PBS station in Alaska (correct me if I am wrong) writes the following:
I was asked this week by a colleague whether I watched the CNN/YouTube debate. The assumption was that since I’m a “new media” guy I would be interested in seeing it. I was not and I did not see it.
Why not watch?
Because little soundbite answers to canned questions from self-serving media wannabes does not illuminate any of the issues. Just because the web is involved and it’s “new” and “edgy” doesn’t mean it’s good for the democracy. Add to that the false lens of CNN that twists the process to their own ends. We’ve turned over the democratic process to a for-profit corporation. How does all this make sense for us as a nation?
A sustained multi-hour debate would actually get my attention for the very reason that it would (eventually) break through the soundbite artifice and force candidates to finally dig in and deal with issues and show their ideas without coaching.
Anyway — a new model of public engagement and participation is needed. Video is likely to be a big component of that model for reasons cited on this blog before.
So… when do we get started?
Can we put the ‘public’ back in ‘Public Discourse’?
Let’s take Iraq as an example.
The conventional ‘news’ tries to ‘deliver’ information, but it does a fairly poor job.
It cannot get beyond the headlines (which are pretty much a commodity) because the people who work there don’t really know much about Iraq, about Islam, about the history of the region, about the culture about much of anything. So the ‘added value’ is nill.
This is true not only of Iraq, but of any story: economics, oil, health, science.. you name it.
But there are people in this country who are real experts on Iraq… and oil, and science and everything else. Like Wikipedia, a compendium of shared intelligence and shared knowledge.
On the Today show they might book one or two, or on The Jim Lehrer Newshour – if anyone watched it.
But on the web they can all participate….
We could redefine news… something that has not happened since 1608, so maybe it is time.
We could redefine news to mean a massive, interactive ongoing town meeting constantly being updated with new information.
One gigantic global Wiki dealing in all the important issues of our time.
Using text and video….
And as the web aggregates based on subject, content and popularity…. easily accessible.
A neurological network of our collective knowledge and opinion running 24 hours a day.
Could this be the new news?