Rebooting the News #22

In Podcast on August 24, 2009 by Dave Winer

Podcast commenced at 9AM Pacific.

We welcome our first guest, Zach Seward, assistant editor of the Nieman Journalism Lab who also writes their excellent Twitter feed. Nieman tracks many of the same developments that we call Rebooting the News and Zach is a loyal listener, so he seemed like the perfect choice.

The AP: WTF?

“Born of a disruptive technology.” The telegraph gave rise to the AP, now it’s another disruptive technology that is threatening to crash it. Zack, who has been writing and reporting about the AP for months, takes us back to its birth as a cooperative to share the costs of adapting to the telepgraph.

Jay: Looking at the AP’s various moves in 2009, is there a plot? Is there a plan?

Zach: we’re seeing the internal disruption played out in public. There is no coherent vision.

Dave: what do you think the end is going to be for the AP?

Zach: They will continue to lose members. They can survive for a while losing their members, but as a smaller business. There just isn’t much that indicates that they “get” how to thrive on the Web yet. Perhaps if they were able to re-draw the concept of “member,” and conceive of readers and viewers as the members… perhaps then there could be a new AP.

Dave: It’s called an IPO! They would have to say, as Google did, “just buy our stock and we’ll figure it out.”

Jay: When I try to figure out the AP, I find that the politics of keeping the organization together are mixed up with the problem of migrating this organization to a new land of news. This produces the opacity.

The 40 twists brain trust

All three participants are users of Dave’s the 40twits app.

Dave: The announcement that was shutting down (later reversed) showed how vulnerable it is to platform disruption at the hands of a single company. “Maybe we ought not to be dependent on these companies.” In fact, we all need our own domain names for the shortened url’s we’re using.

Zach reports on the utility of “My use of Twitter has changed dramatically.” One clear lesson: “If I can offer data, that shoots right to the top.” He adjusted his stream accordingly.

Jay: Also, allows me to confirm or disconfirm my own editorial hunches. and its ability to follow journalists on Twitter by beat is going somewhere similar, Dave says. A service like that could end up being important.

The undeveloped art of the news explainer

Jay: How do we provide the background narrative and the newsy updates together, because we need both. That’s what Matt Thompson’s post, “The three key parts of news stories you usually don’t get,” is about. Shifts in the background narrative are “missing parts” in the news system. That’s what PressThink’s National Explainer post his about. (“There are some stories — and the mortgage crisis is a great example — where until I grasp the whole I am unable to make sense of any part.”) And what my SXSW panel proposal, the Future of Context, is about, with Matt Thompson and Tristan Harris of Apture.

Zach: “I think it’s a user-interface question.”

Jay: It’s also about building a second entry point to the news system, “because some people only start to care about the story after they get big narrative.”

Dave: Jason Calacanis was trying to do something very much like that with Mahalo. (See its page for So is Wikipedia and even Google.

Source of inspiration

Fom Jay: The (new) Daily Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, an up-to-date newspaper, re-launched by students who are paying attention to the reboot. As I said on Twitter, “They listen, they learn, they participate and they act.”

reboot09Aug24.mp3 (audio/mpeg, 10.3MB)
Monday, August 24, 2009.

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