Saving News But Not Newspapers

Jul 11 2011 @ 12:56pm

by Patrick Appel

From Clay Shirky's latest mediation on the state of news:

[A] crisis in reporting isn’t something that might take place in the future. A 30% reduction in newsroom staff, with more to come, means this is the crisis, right now. … Having one kind of institution do most of the reporting for most communities in the US seemed like a great idea right up until it seemed like a single point of failure. As that failure spreads, the news ecosystem isn’t just getting more chaotic, we need it to be more chaotic, because we need multiple competing approaches. It isn’t newspapers we should be worrying about, but news, and there are many more ways of getting and reporting the news that we haven’t tried than that we have.

Alexis Madrigal chimes in. Timothy B Lee questions whether there is truly a "crisis" in reporting:

A reporter’s job is to collect, organize, and summarize information about important events in the world. The more of the world’s information that comes pre-organized, the easier the reporter’s job will be. And the Internet is a gigantic information-organizing machine. Sites like Google, Wikipedia, and Twitter provide vast amounts of information “pre-digested.” Reporters still have to do some work to get the information they need from these tools and turn them into publishable copy. But more and more of the basic work is done for us.