Rebooting The News #33

In Podcast on November 17, 2009 by Dave Winer

Dave has been programming a lot recently, determined to solve problems that have been bothering him for a long time. There’s no one place, there’s no one archive for all the posting we do online. “Can we come up with a unified writing space?” That’s the problem he’s trying to solve with the tools he’s been working on.

Jay: “Everything you’ve done is kind of a declaration of independence.” Independence for writers and publishers on the Web.

Commenting on last week’s show with Jennifer Preston, Dave says: The show made me realize, the people of the New York Times just think differently than we do.

Jay: Yes, but one of the things that is changing at big news organizations is that the power of the individual voice is rising relative to the institutional brand.

Another: Prior to the Web, the people who ran these organizations actually believed that they knew what there was to know about journalism. There was no missing knowledge. “That has been blown away.”

Dave on a piece he write about the tech industry’s pretensions to “change the world.” His title: let the world change you. For the people who run Twitter, it’s more likely that the world will change them than that they will change the world.

Jay’s attended a conference at Yale called, “Journalism and the New Media Ecology: Who Will Pay the Messenger?” This was the wrong question. It should have been, “who will subsidize news production?”

But the striking thing was that the bloggers and the journalists, the for-profits and the non-profits, the writers and the executives were all in the same space, unlike the discussion in 2005 that we were both at.

Dave: But the news may start coming to us without being subsidized. Or interfered with at all. “Can’t I get it without the filter?”

Jay: Well, with any kind of report we might offer, we have to compose an account; and that always means we must edit: leave things out, frame the shot.

Dave: True. But reporters can be bullies. They can decide to set themselves up as the gatekeeper. They can be excluders. “When they do that, I want them to be exposed.”

The Murdoch circus around paywalls and the threat to exit from Google. Jay: “I’m so tired of listening to these news companies moan and gripe about Google that I want them to go ahead and try.”

Dave: I don’t really care, just as I can’t really care about what I see on CNN. It’s sterile.

Jay: if CNN would just learn from Jon Stewart, then it could develop a real news identity.

Dave: If people leave comments at this site that are good enough to be blog posts, can we make them into blog posts?

Jay: I’m open to that, as long as its in the context of a reply to a show.

And here’s the show:

Hope you enjoy…

5 Responses to “Rebooting The News #33”

  1. I gotta tell you that Jay and you will be better than the woman from the NY Times you had last time who really was still preoccupied with using the TImes as a curator.

  2. Minding the Gap

    Monday morning, about the same time the RBTN #33 was set to air on the east coast, jay twittered a reference to the need for a philosophy of journalism .

    He surfaced his concern again during the broadcast, when he charged that the inability or refusal to call bullshit on public figures and institutions constituted absolute dereliction of journalistic duty.

    In “On Bullshit,” Princeton emeritus professor of philosophy Henry G. Frankfurt defined the essence of bullshit as “this lack of connection to a concern with truth—this indifference to how things really are.”

    Frankfurt argues that bullshit is far worse than lying, leading as it does to the eventual disregard for the realness of reality.

    “Both in lying and in telling the truth people are guided by their beliefs concerning the way things are. These guide them as they endeavor either to describe the world correctly or to describe it deceitfully . . . . The bullshitter ignores these demands altogether. He does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.”

    Following Frankfurt and Rosen, bullshit is revealed as antithetical to the democratic project that lies at the heart of true journalism and the inability to call bullshit as disqualifying condition for journalism.

    Yet as Marc Cooper recently asked “if it is biased for a reporter to call an obviously ignorant pol ignorant. Media don’t hesitate to use “smart” or “brilliant” to describe politicians. Why not ignorant?

    Why not is a question worth raising again and again. It is the beginning of accountability.

  3. You asked for comments, so here goes.

    1. I’d like to see Dave come up with a new metaphor to replace “news = mirror.” Every time Jay presses him on what it means, he ends up backing away from it and generally agreeing to Jay’s vision of what news is and what journalists do. I’m guessing that Dave has used the metaphor for so long that momentum and lack of a better alternative, rather than utility, are the reasons he keeps using it.

    2. It also seems like Dave lets his personal hobbyhorses and past bad experiences color the discussion a bit too much. I like good, old-fashioned rant about something stupid (SUL) as much as the next guy, maybe more. And there can be great value in generalizing from one’s personal experiences (sources go direct). But Dave can sometimes fall into a bit of “why doesn’t X recognize my genius!?” I would argue that you can see this in the last podcast with Jennifer Preston. Rather than using the time to have an interesting discussion — I was looking forward to exploring how Twitter lists were allowing us to see what news-as-curation looks like, what a more robust list feature would add, how such lists could be the foundation for a checkbox news system — we get Dave and Jennifer butting heads on who gets to write for the NY Times.

    • I’m going to stick with mirror cause that’s what I want.

      If Jay wants something other than a mirror, I don’t know what it is.

      I’ll agree that the wording at the end of the Preston interview (which it wasn’t supposed to be) was awkward, but never did I say what you quoted me as saying.

      So you’re indulging in hyperbole with my reputation. Not a great thing to do — do it with your own, and if you want to persist, do it somewhere else. It’s nasty. We try here to give people the benefit of the doubt, not overstate their mistakes.

      And if you have more to say please introduce yourself.

  4. […] happening with the news system in the US, I came up with a new analogy this time, which I told in Rebooting The News #33, and thought I should repeat […]

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