“Bureaucracies do not die when terminated; they change names.”
— Gilhooley’s First Fundamental Finding, Robert Anton Wilson’s “Trick Top Hat“.
There’s an article currently burning up the Internets. Clay Shirky has a very insightful piece about the death of newspapers and you should probably go read it.
If professional news gathering organizations go, what replaces them? Shirkey does a good job dispensing with most economic models to save them — online subscriptions, micro-payments, and even advertising models.
We are in revolutionary times, and old social structures and systems are failing, newspapers chief among them. One successor that I hear a lot of talk about is “citizen” journalism. Instead of paid reporters, interested citizens will cover the news.
Now, I know people that feel strongly about things, like who should be president and who shouldn’t, whether marriage should be allowed between people that are the same gender. They have persuasive arguments, and I’m happy to listen but I don’t want them making up my mind for me.
I’m afraid that’s what you’ll get with citizen reporting: Biased people ignoring what other biased people have to say, and nobody listening. It’s already happening: Go read Farhad Manjoo.
At some point, people get sick of that. You can only listen to people calling each other liars and idiots before you begin to look for some honest children to tattle and say what’s really happened. Then, someone will establish something that looks remarkably like a traditional newsroom. And it’ll be a whole new revolution.