Shining examples of how mainstream media doesn't 'get it'

Shining examples of how mainstream media doesn't 'get it'

Summary: I laughed (at them).  I cried.  Last night, on the way home from Dave Winer's eat-meet-and-greet in Cambridge, I listened to a replay of Thursday morning's episode (The Future of the American Newspaper) of NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook.

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TOPICS: Browser
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I laughed (at them).  I cried.  Last night, on the way home from Dave Winer's eat-meet-and-greet in Cambridge, I listened to a replay of Thursday morning's episode (The Future of the American Newspaper) of NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook.  Along with Terry Gross (also of NPR), I consider Ashbrook to be one of the best radio interviewers in the business.  He really listens to those who call in and eloquently reframes their questions in a way that demands a pointed response from the interviewees.  But most of what I heard yesterday from his guests -- Roy Peter Clark, Tom Rosenstiel,  and Peter  Bathia --  made me roll my eyes.  Clearly, by virtue of some of the things they said, they're in touch with the impact that the Internet has had on print.  But the credibility of the blogosphere was poo-poo'd and no one knew (or had the guts to say) that newspapers as we know them are dead because of how technologies like RSS make it possible for us to build our own papers (electronic or print) based on who we thing is credible.  Need proof?  By way of Steve Rubel's most excellent Micro Persuasion blog (subscribed!), here's the future.  

Suggested interviewee for this topic: David Weinberger, fellow at the Berkman Center at Harvard's School of Law (where I'm speaking next week), author of Small Pieces Loosely Joined, and co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto.  Hear him get interviewed by Thoughcast's Jenny Attiyeh's regarding The Web 2.0 and beyond.

Related: Yesterday, I was interviewed by Marketplace's (NPR) Janet Babin about HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray. Although it fell on the cutting room floor, Babin asked all the right questions one of which was "Which is better?"  Answer: It doesn't matter.  It's VHS vs. BetaMax all over again.  Only this time, the stakes are too big, the warchests behind both are too substantial, and the market is too politicized for technological supremacy to play the role it should.  In the end, just like with DRM, with multiple incompatible technologies and agendas being shoved into the marketplace, we lose.

Topic: Browser

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  • There's nothing to 'get'

    "But the credibility of the blogosphere was poo-poo'd and no one knew (or had the guts to say) that newspapers as we know them are dead because of how technologies like RSS make it possible for us to build our own papers (electronic or print) based on who we thing is credible. Need proof? By way of Steve Rubel's most excellent Micro Persuasion blog (subscribed!), here's the future."

    Well, the "blogosphere" SHOULD be poo-poo'd. Too many people still consider anything they read as authoritative, and many bloggers have taken no measures to inform readers that what they are reading is OPINION, nothing more. Even the blogs at such 'reputable' sites as ZDNet should be taken with a boulder of salt. Bloggers take themselves way too seriously, and expect to be viewed as 'reputable journalists' even in the absence of fact-checking and competent editorial review. If nothing else, the poor grammar and spelling so prevalent in blogs leave me less than impressed.

    As for the "Sony Reader", I'm not going to hold my breath. Remember when eBooks were going to replace printed books? Has that happened yet? How many people do you see sitting in the train station reading eBooks versus reading printed books? Like it or not, people prefer to have printed material - no battery or interference problems, and it can be used in a wide variety of lighting situations. The Reader may be a neat gadget, but that's all it will ever be. It won't replace the morning paper for most people.

    Carl Rapson
    rapson
    • so, you are saying that..

      out of the millions of bloggers out there (and photojournalists) whose content is available via RSS, you wouldn't put your faith enough of them to build you a daily newspaper? I disagree. First of all, not everything I read has to be credible. Some percentage of what I read is for entertainment. For example, something humorous from The Onion. ThinkSecret is so good at what it does, it's getting sued. The tsunami photos that came by way of average citizens were a far better source of information than the media who couldn't get their foot soldiers there in time. During the interview, one of the interviewees referred to the challenge of "covering the entire waterfront when the water is already lapping up in people's living rooms."

      In a few years, I think you'll see this differently. And the mainstream media will be wondering what to do about it.

      db
      dberlind
      • Yes

        I'm saying exactly that. I peruse various web sites on a daily basis, both blogs and "news" articles. I also read seeral newspapers on a weekly basis, in an attempt to get a broad view of events. I also watch several news programs (both broadcast and cable) for the same reason. It's fairly easy (to me, at least) to distinguish fact from opinion - for one thing, simple news reporting doesn't make any judgements or take sides in a story. But it's obvious that many people don't make that distinction, for whatever reason. They've grown used to believing what they read in the paper or what they see on the nightly news, and they're now being told that bloggers are just the modern equivalents of journalists. So they tend to believe what they read in blogs, also. Bloggers have a responsibility to ensure that their readers understand the difference between fact and opinion. And so far, I haven't seen anyone living up to that responsibility. Saying that the 'mainstream media' is just as bad doesn't excuse it in bloggers. I see so many journalists and bloggers decrying the lack of intelligence in 'Joe Sixpack', but are they helping to educate Joe?

        Allowing people to 'build their own daily newspaper' sounds fine, but what we are seeing with the Internet is not the 'democratization' of information but the 'Balkanization' of information (I believe I've touched on this subject before). It's so easy now to find others who share your views that people tend to believe that all right-minded people think the same way - "there wouldn't be so many web sites that agree with me if I weren't right, would there?". So everyone spends his time in his own little world, surrounded by those who agree with him. And the decline in civilized discourse in modern society (another area where responsible journalists have fallen down) leads to the complete polarization of nearly every discussion. Now, not only are those who disagree with you 'wrong', they must also be 'evil' or 'corrupt'. Combine the two and you get a vast wealth of information that is, at best, absolutely worthless and, at worst, destructive. Calling it 'RSS' or 'Web 3.0' or 'Attention' or anything else doesn't change it. Without responsibility on someone's part, it's just making a bad situation worse.

        Carl Rapson
        rapson
    • What is "authorative"?

      When I was growing up I was repeatedly told - Don't believe everything you read - and in THOSE days there were no bloggers, ONLY newspapers and books.

      Just what is different today? That old addage still applies - its just that there are more places to apply it to. Are you just getting old Carl? ;)
      Roger Ramjet
      • May be

        But I don't automatically believe everything I read or hear, either. I never have. I guess sometimes I just get tired of hearing 'you don't get it' used to explain away anyone who doesn't agree with you. It's a convenient cop-out.

        Carl Rapson
        rapson
        • cop out?

          yeah, but I'm not copping out. What I'm saying is that the discussion that was had on NPR cannot be had without discussing how technology is changing the container (and in this case, the container was omitted). So, for example paper is just a container and the editors at your newspaper are the ones who decides what goes into it. My feeling is that ownership of the container is changing. Now, I decide what goes into the container. This is the elephant in the room for newspapers because until now, their entire business model depends on them controlling the container.

          db
          dberlind
  • Blu-ray

    Actually VHS vs. Betamax in this case is OK. Having ONLY 2 competing standards is better than 10 or 20. The DVD-R and DVD+R camps eventually came together as hardware would support both - so you don't care which one you are using at the time. A single device that can handle Blu-ray and HD-DVD is SO MUCH BETTER than a Betamax deck that can ONLY play a Betamax tape (ever try sticking in a VHS tape? Its too big . . .).
    Roger Ramjet
  • Statistics on RSS use?

    Didn't I read that only about a quarter of internet users had ever heard of RSS and only a small fraction of those had ever used it?

    How could something with such poor uptake definitely be successful?

    Before being so certain of the future, shouldn't the present be more reassuring that you're right?

    My view, newsprint is in trouble. But newspapers, online version, will be one of the advertising successes.

    People want to be familiar with their sources of information, and sometimes even browse news they did not expect to want to read.
    Anton Philidor
    • Memory refreshed.

      4% use RSS and know it.

      I'd expect that My Yahoo users, if told about RSS, would say they do not use RSS, My Yahoo does.
      Anton Philidor