Articles

Rebooting The News #14

In Podcast on June 22, 2009 by Dave Winer

The significance of the Washington Post dumping its online columnist Dan Froomkin, who has a huge following in the blogosphere and deep respect among academics (like Brad Delong) and journalists (like James Fallows.)

“We’re already using it.” The rebooted system for news, that is.

Dave said this several shows ago in talking about the sources going direct. But now it’s become crystal clear: the rebooted system had its mainstream moment this week. We were all dependent on it for news of the upheaval in Iran. And it was better than CNN but it didn’t always work. People started adding features so that it would function better.

Extend the reach of the news system by making it pro-am. That’s part of the reboot for sure. We’re already using it. Here’s what the home page of the NYTimes.com said Saturday afternoon, June 20. “Readers inside Iran or in touch with people there are encouraged to send information or to e-mail photos to…” At the time, this was the #1 story on the international news agenda. The users had to help or the story wasn’t going to get reported. (Jay: Great! That only took 15 years of pushing for a more participatory attitude in journalism.)

The News System of the Future isn’t such a new thing. It’s been glimpsed many times since the 1990s. (Dave: I remember when people wanted to send a reporter into Bosnia. I said no, let’s give people in Bosnia a way to get their news out.)

That Twitter “is” the new system for news means only this: it’s the closest thing we have to what the rebooted system looks like. So let’s use it to conjure with. Because it’s the closest thing, but still far from adequate, we need to talk about what we hate in the user experience and features we need Twitter to have. The users should start publishing their own feature request lists. The most commonly requested will show the way to what the service should be.

Also, pro journalists who have mastered Twitter– like Patrick LaForge, known as Palafo–let’s find out what features they think the system needs.

Technology has “rebooted” journalism dozens of times over the centuries since the press first emerged. That is more of a constant than any particular practice.

Live-blogging and RSS: a few practice notes (using this example) from Dave.

Sources of inspiration for a reborn system of news. Jay’s week. His pick: that scene in the movie Network (1976, directed by Sidney Lumet) where the crazed anchorman, Howard Beale, urges viewers to get up from their seats in front of the TV set, de-couple themselves from mass media, and go to the windows to shout out: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”.”

reboot09Jun22.mp3 (binary/octet-stream, 10.4MB)
Monday, June 22, 2009.

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