All of Us, the Arbiters of News by David Carr

Original, August 11, 2008 New York Times

Arbiter
1.    a person empowered to decide matters at issue; judge; umpire.
2.    a person who has the sole or absolute power of judging or determining.

This is an oped about how human nature and the Network Age are forcing the corporate media to bend to our will, and our demand for choice in news, information and content. The web and related networking technologies, as this article points out, can be a powerful positive influence on their news gathering and dissemination; trying to interfere with it may be their downfall. 

 

 

Emerging technologies that threaten to destroy the current paradigm can have precisely the opposite effect. Remember when VCRs and then DVDs were going to lay waste to the movie industry and ended up saving it instead? The Web leaks of entertainment that NBC bought and paid for served as a kind of trailer for the real thing.

There is a lesson there for rest of the media, most specifically The Philadelphia Inquirer, where the managing editor, Michael Leary, issued a memo last week suggesting that all of the paper’s good stuff — “signature investigative reporting, enterprise, trend stories, news features and reviews” — would not appear online until they first appear in print.

“For our bloggers, especially, this may require a bit of an adjustment,” Mr. Leary informed the staff. “Some of you like to try out ideas that end up as subjects of stories or columns in print first. If in doubt, consult your editor.”

Even to the eye of this reporter — to use a hack newspaper term — The Inquirer seems to be making a mistake. If the future of our business is online, then why set up a firewall, delaying the best content to protect a legacy product? And more adept reporters are beginning to realize that the Web is not just a way to broadcast news, it is a great way to assemble it as well.

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