Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dethroned journos

Timothy B. Lee considers the results for news dissemination of the Internet removing journalists from the paternalistic, privileged gatekeeping positions:

The reality is that a great many people still read newspapers, so it shouldn’t surprise us that the local metro daily is still one of the most prominent soapboxes in a given metropolitan area. But we’ve seen a proliferation of locally-focused blogs and news sites that help to disseminate news to civically-minded people in a metropolitan area ....

Things look even better if we look at the hyper-local level. Virtually every neighborhood has a neighborhood mailing list for exchanging local community information. Here the reporter-middleman is cut out of the loop entirely: people who care about local politics communicate directly with one another. A neighborhood mailing list is going to have vastly more information than would be available in a local newspaper a generation ago. Not everyone will have the patience for that, but the ones who matter most will. And the rest will take their cues from their politically-engaged friends and neighbors.

Reporters no longer have a technologically-imposed monopoly on their readers’ attention. Readers are no longer stuck with whichever local newspaper happens to be in their home town, and so reporters have to work harder to keep the audiences that used to be theirs by default. Not surprisingly, established journalists don’t like this trend. They liked the privileged position they enjoyed in the pre-Internet age, and they built an elaborate self-justifying ideology that portrayed their privileged position as a benefit to readers. It’s a letdown for journalists to suddenly find themselves on a level playing field with hordes of amateurs. But frankly, that’s just the world works: if a bunch of amateurs can do your job as well as you can, then you should probably find a new job.

HT: Freddie O'Connell

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