Quick Hits From the 1st Day of The Future of News

Not live blogging, but some quick hits from today’s presentations.

Dan Gillmore began with a nice discussion of citizen-media, noting the role of trust and reputation.

Steve Boriss talked about four “advances” that actually set news back:

  • The steam engine was harnessed to the printing press (fewer voices because investment was needed to really be heard)
  • The Associated Press (one source for international and national news)
  • Modern journalism (Lippman’s ideas turned journalism into a science removing the competition of ideas)
  • Broadcasting (now government could regulate news)

He said the Internet is now undermining these “advances.” Other points Steve made included the idea that audiences will not change – they are still mostly observers (with some exceptions) and will want experts to create; social media has been oversold; so has citizen journalism.

Reihan Salam from The Atlantic made an interesting point about audiences taking ownership of publications, as well as creating publications.

The second session was the one in which I participated and, since it dealt with the economics of news, revolved at least partly around concerns that the industry will no longe be able to produce the kind of investigative and other news that results from “real journalism.” Eric Alterman was quite pessimistic on this point while Gordon Crovitz and I were more optimistic. This conversation led to a question about how we can create more demand for news. This prompted me to add that I could think of no other product with which the product managers sit around wondering how to independently create demand for their product instead of thinking about how to improve their product to the point where demand rises. I suggested that this kind of hand-wringing gets in the way of creating a better news product. (I suspect Eric may have disagreed!)

Finally, there was some discussion of government funding for ailing media companies, a notion with which Gordon and I disagreed, while Eric thought it merited some consideration.

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