Articles

Rebooting The News #16

In Podcast on July 13, 2009 by Dave Winer

Recorded at 9AM Pacific on 7/13/09.

The real time stream. The live web. River of News. Flow. The now. The processing web. Different names for the same perception. Whatever you call it, it’s on people’s minds.

Dave: “watching the stream go by” (the river of news) is an alternative to the hunt and peck system. These are two different modes for accessing news. “Twitter blew out the doors on river of news.” People are starting to understand that they like news as flow and that’s why they like Twitter.

Jay: Technology and the news system have to fit into each other in a new way. The failures of the news industry and of the tech industry are starting points for finding that fit. But what’s forcing them together is a shift in power. For both–the news system and the technology industry-the users have come in and disrupted it.

Dave: “It is always thus.” The users figure it out and want their independence; the attempt to “hold” them always breaks like a dam on a river giving way when the flow behind it becomes too great.

In reply to a request from Dave, Jay gives a brief history of what he was up to before the two met at this event in 2003. From “civic journalism” in the early 1990s to blogging, citizen journalism and rebooting the news today, by way of open source and the all-important question: What Are Journalists For?

The omniscient author of news: history of a faltering claim. “You don’t need omniscience as a reporter; you need eyes and ears.” Dave finally found the right example: the world’s 50 most powerful blogs. Where does that list come from? Powerful by what measures? Does the knowledge get handed down from above?

Jay: A pro journalist not only tries to tell you what happened but also persuade you to accept–trust–this account. One of the ways the profession has tried to persuade us is the omniscient voice in news.

Andrew Heyward, president of CBS News, said it at PressThink in 2005: The Era of Omniscience is Over. “On most matters there are multiple points of view out there as opposed to a single, discoverable truth.” Several weeks later, Heyward quit. He also resigned from a fiction the news industry didn’t need anymore.

Maybe the stream is omniscient, in a way –Dave

How do we get filters as good as the flow? –Jay

Dave: We’re going through this in microcosm at InBerkeley.com.

The Virtual Assignment Desk–one element in a rebooted system of news–is up and running. It has two simple points of entry:

* be the journalist (pick up an assignment for The Local)

* assign the journalist (suggest something The Local should cover)

Assignment desk, long distance version. Jay on Twitter: “We need a reporter to find Berkeley Law dean Christopher Edley and interview him about John Yoo and the IG report.” Dave: The InBerkeley community can do that. That’s exactly what it’s for.

At a meeting of local bloggers and J-school people, a young journalist asked Dave: why should I write for free at inberkeley.com and make you rich? Dave’s answer: In a new venture you never know who’s going to make the money, and you never know how.

Source of inspiration this week: Jay goes with James Fallows, a journalist who takes technology seriously, and writes about it with authority but always as a user. He never joined the church of the savvy, though he does belong to the cult of the reporter.

reboot09Jul13.mp3 (binary/octet-stream, 10.2MB)
Monday, July 13, 2009.

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