Clay Shirky On The Future Of Journalism

Jul 15th, 2009 | By | Category: Citizen Media, Microblogging

Cato Unbound has published an interesting article by Clay Shirky that looks at the future of journalism.

It looks at the chaos in the world of journalism created by new media, and how maintaining the status quo is impossible:

Like driving, journalism is not a profession — no degree or certification is required to practice it, and training often comes after hiring — and it is increasingly being transformed into an activity, open to all, sometimes done well, sometimes badly, but at a volume that simply cannot be supported by a small group of full-time workers. The journalistic models that will excel in the next few years will rely on new forms of creation, some of which will be done by professionals, some by amateurs, some by crowds, and some by machines.

This will not replace the older forms journalism, but then nothing else will either; both preservation and simple replacement are off the table. The change we’re living through isn’t an upgrade, it’s a upheaval, and it will be decades before anyone can really sort out the value of what’s been lost versus what’s been gained. In the meantime, the changes in self-assembling publics and new models of subsidy will drive journalistic experimentation in ways that surprise us all.

Shirky takes it as a given that the old models for journalism, especially newspaper journalism, won’t survive as both money and attention move away from old media to blogs, YouTube, Twitter and other new media and social media new sources.

But Shirky points out that we’re not just losing old media publishers, we’re losing a “public” that has a shared perspective on the world because of a shared media experience. In the future, the “public” that shares your perspective on the world is going to be not fixed by geography, but by your interests, the sites that you visit and the way you choose to get your news.

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3 Responses to “Clay Shirky On The Future Of Journalism”

  1. msbpodcast says:

    “In the future, the ‘public’ that shares your perspective on the world is going to be not fixed by geography, but by your interests, the sites that you visit and the way you choose to get your news.”

    I couldn’t put better myself.

    With the internet, on the web, a poverty of connection spells the doom of obscurity.

    Its not patrons, readership, audience or localized attention that spells how influential you are likely to become. Its the sheer mass of reader/audience you’re opus can attract.

    And even that is relative to the total size of the marketplace.

    There are 6.5x billion people on earth today. There are 0.0833% of them with MS, therefore the total marketplace is a mere 5,414,500. Reaching that 5M people is now possible and becomes more possible as broadband access improves.

    The only divisions that have any chance of standing are those of market segmentation by linguistic affiliation.

  2. arjun says:

    Yes – good points from msbpodcast, too, especially about language being a barrier more than geography.

    I see already that the sites I visit affects the way I see the news. If I spend a lot of time on Twitter, I get news a lot more quickly than I would otherwise, but it takes more of my time.

  3. Brian says:

    While there’s no license required to practice journalism, which is probably best, journalism school is a place where innovation is taking place. The university of Missouri, where I’m writing from, has a partnership with Newsy.com. here’s a sample of what students there are putting together: http://www.newsy.com/videos/hillary_clinton_stepping_out_of_obama_s_shadow

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