From blogs to vlogs, Facebook to MySpace, Twitter to Flickr, Delicious to reddit, words and images bounce around the globe, spreading wide and fast. Journalists are adapting to the ever-shifting terrain carved out of these conversations. In this issue they describe changes in how they work and what they produce, explore emerging ethical issues, and propose principles of active engagement.
A few hours ago, a friend of mine emailed me, lamenting a story that CNN was passing off as breaking news, even though it was far from being either news or newsworthy. His displeasure reminded me of a conversation I had with serial entrepreneur and startup guru Steve Blank when he came to my office to tape an interview . As we sat there waiting for the cameras to roll, we talked about what media is in this post-broadband, always-on world.
There have been plenty of obituaries written for the newspaper business, most of which have a kernel of truth to them — but is journalism as we know it at risk as well? Dave Winer, a programming guru and visiting scholar at the New York University school of journalism, says it is. In a blog post on Friday, Winer argued that “journalism itself is becoming obsolete” because now anyone can do it. Is he right? In some ways, yes.
Back in 1993, the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain began investigating piracy of Dave Barry’s popular column, which was published by the Miami Herald and syndicated widely. In the course of tracking down the sources of unlicensed distribution, they found many things, including the copying of his column to alt.fan.dave_barry on usenet; a 2000-person strong mailing list also reading pirated versions; and a teenager in the Midwest who was doing some of the copying himself, because he loved Barry’s work so much he wanted everybody to be able to read it. One of the people I was hanging around with online back then was Gordy Thompson, who managed internet services at the New York Times.