Rebooting the News #41

In Podcast on February 16, 2010 by Jay Rosen

Google Buzz Breaks Trust

Our obvious first story is the unfortunate launch of Google Buzz. Dave’s post was Google did something seriously wrong. Jay’s comment on Twitter. “I waited, read the news about Google Buzz, absorbed the accounts and experiences of people I trust, and disabled it before ever opening it.”

From watching what others said, Jay’s sense was: “it was not ready for me.” Dave: “You were right, it was not ready for you.”

Dave: “When I’m evaluating a piece of software I want to feel like that’s a safe thing to do. It’s a new piece of software, I haven’t entered any data into it, how could I reveal anything?” Jay: “You need a safe place to play with it where there aren’t any consequences.”

The New York Times reported Google’s non-apology as an apology, Dave said. “The tech industry has yet to learn how to be a responsible member of the society it is a part of.”

Why did they do it? Well, Facebook directs more online users than Google.

The BBC Lays Down the Law

Last week, the BBC told its news staff to get on board with the rebooted system of news or find another job. It’s not an option. This is from an in-house newsletter:

“This isn’t just a kind of fad from someone who’s an enthusiast of technology. I’m afraid you’re not doing your job if you can’t do those things. It’s not discretionary…” For BBC news editors, Twitter and RSS readers are to become essential tools, says Horrocks. Aggregating and curating content with attribution should become part of a BBC journalist’s assignment; and BBC’s journalists have to integrate and listen to feedback for a better understanding of how the audience is relating to the BBC brand.

“If you don’t like it, if you think that level of change or that different way of working isn’t right for me, then go and do something else, because it’s going to happen.”

Pretty amazing statement!

Dave: The problem isn’t to extract money from the news flow, but “how to expand the flow to cover all the stuff that’s now relevant.” The demand for news keeps going up. And what observers often say is that our attention span will be the limit. But even if the attention span stays constant, the demand for news will go up because people will want more specific news that connects to the lives they’re actually living.

Jay: What I found striking about this report from inside the BBC is that it focused on “the program” as the locus of all newswork, and pointed to how outdated that way of thinking is.

Teaching the World to Report

Dave: I’d like to see a book from the New York Times: “here’s how to write for the New York Times.”

Jay: This is part of our idea for the open source assignment desk, which Studio 20 is going to create. It has to contain not only assignments contributors can browse, but also instructions for how those assignments can be completed well. “This has never really been done because professionals wanted to keep instructions for how to produce accounts to themselves.” Dave: “If we actually saw their recipe we might get nauseous.”

Then we batted around the idea that journalism schools need an “extension” model, teaching the wider world how to report.

What to Reject When You’re Rejecting The Wisdom of Crowds

Jay: As I wrote about at my Posterous, I’m getting really tired of people debunking the notion that crowds are “all wise.” It’s a piece of crap. Digital Maoism? Groan. “That’s like calling someone an open source Hitler.”

Here’s the show; we hope you get something out of it.

3 Responses to “Rebooting the News #41”

  1. I’m trying to recruit a couple of participants for your Thursday night thing who I think would be good additions: my older son and his girlfriend. Adam is a developer for FactSet and Steph is an NYU alum, grad student in CS at Pace and acct exec at Edelman. I think they’re regularly in the neighborhood because they are still associated with an NYU ballroom dancing club. Yeah, a dancing programmer, go figure.

  2. FYI: This episode still hasn’t shown up in my podcatcher.

  3. Agree with previous comment– I don’t see RTN 41 or 42 on iTunes.

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