January 05, 2005

How to Spend the Next 8 Minutes

Take that amount of time to watch this fanciful presentation of one possible news media future -- one without the New York Times and its lesser printed cousins.

Outlandish? Maybe. I expect we'll still have the Times a decade hence, but as media personalization accelerates, and the line between news and commerce blurs further, today's journalists musk ask themselves: What is my role in that disintermediated world? Where do the the principles of journalism fit in? How necessary is the Fourth Estate in civil society when every citizen can create his or her own media?

The Flash was put together by Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson. I found this copy on a mirror that favors quotes such as this Chinese saying:

Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.

That sounds like a good beginning for the journalism of the future.

Posted by Tim Porter at January 5, 2005 06:34 PM

No wonder journalism is in trouble. Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel write that the purpose of journalism is "to provide people with the information they need to be free and self-governing." They fail to incorporate the really interesting concept of the "Awareness Instinct" that they mentioned earlier. The definition needs the word "secure" interjected between free and self-governing. And I mean secure in the sustainable global resources sense more than in the Homeland Security sense, but both are valid.

If, according to these authors, the first principle of journalism is an obligation to the truth, then we have to decide whose truth.
Trying not to be too esoteric, but it's so much more emotionally satisfying to have your preconceived truth mirrored back at you than to have to read conflicting information, bad news, or to have to suspend judgment about important issues that you don't have enough facts to logically act on. I don't see how we can sell anything but journalism in the "News I Can Use" genre except to a minority of people who are willing to be challenged in what they think and believe.

Very closely tied to the difficulties of the first principle is the second -- "Its [journalism's] first loyalty is to citizens."
Really. Leaving the whole commercial aspect aside, whose citizens? The 8th Districts? The nations? All democracy-loving countries?

Both of these principles seem built on a worldview that is eroding. Truth is being defined by the economic victors who badly need the old Judeo-Christian ethics as pilars of legitimacy. And the whole notion of citizenship is becoming increasingly fragile in a world where jobs and business are not local. The plight of journalism appears to be very closely tied to the emerging struggle for a very different world order.

Posted by: Laura on January 7, 2005 10:25 AM

Tim, this is brilliant:

Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.

This is the postmodern mantra, and I believe this cultural change is what's driving the disruptive innovations of the day.

Premodernism: I believe, therefore I understand.
Modernism: I reason, therefore I understand.
Postmodernism: I experience, therefore I understand.


Posted by: Terry Heaton on January 15, 2005 08:54 AM
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