Clay Shirky on Internet Issues Facing Newspapers

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Clay Shirky visited Harvard’s Shorenstein Center last week. Berkman’s posted the video of his talk to our YouTube channel:

David Weinberger and Ethan Zuckerman both wrote extensive blogposts on Clay’s talk —

David’s Notes:

There are three ways to create things accessible to the public. Private companies. NGOs. Social/peer production where people get together and do it. #3 had been confined to picnics, etc. Now it’s becoming a big part of the ecosystem. E.g., Pro Publica. Wikileaks. Open source. “The Internet makes all commercial models of journalism harder to sustain…and social models much, much easier to sustain.” “We’re seeing a re-balancing of the landscape” where all three of these modes of production will be operating. We want experiments across all three of these.

Ethan’s Notes:

His fear is that the model we’ve had through the 20th century to produce this accountability journalism is irretrievably broken. First, this model was based on an imbalanced set of intentions between newspapers and their funders. “Best Buy isn’t particularly interested in subsidizing the Baghdad newsroom – they’re paying for it because they don’t have other options” for reaching the public through display ads. Newspapers were able to systematically overcharge for advertising space because there weren’t many other options for advertiers.

And the Nieman Journalism lab has a roundup, transcript, and more.

Clay also blogged about the talk and did a ‘news biopsy’ at his blog:

After the talk, I decided to do a “news biopsy,” as a way of thinking about Coll’s idea. I wanted to see how much newspaper content was what Alex Jones calls the iron core of news — reporters going after facts — and how much was “other stuff” — opinion columns, sports, astrology, weather, comics, everything that was neither a hard news story or an ad.

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