My latest podcast is a reading of Clay Shirky's fabulous essay Why We Need the New News Environment to be Chaotic, previously blogged here. It's a beautifully argued piece about business models, social functions, and market dynamics as they pertain to news, and it was a lot of fun to read.
This system was never ideal—out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made—and long before Craig Newmark and Arianna Huffington began their reign of terror, Gannett and Scripps were pioneering debt-laden balance sheets, highly paid executives, and short-term profit-chasing. But even in their worst days, newspapers supported the minority of journalists reporting actual news, for the minority of citizens who cared. In return, the people who followed sports or celebrities, or clipped recipes and coupons, got to live in a town where the City Council was marginally less likely to be corrupt.Podcast: Shirky’s Why We Need the New News Environment to be Chaotic
Writing about the Dallas Cowboys in order to take money from Ford and give it to the guy on the City Desk never made much sense, but at least it worked. Online, though, the economic and technological rationale for bundling weakens—no monopoly over local advertising, no daily allotment of space to fill, no one-size-fits-all delivery system. Newspapers, as a sheaf of unrelated content glued together with ads, aren’t just being threatened with unprofitability, but incoherence.
(Image: [Virginia. Newspaper vendor and cart in camp] Date: c. 1863, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from oldeyankee's photostream)