Friday, May 20, 2005

increasingly irrelevant

Dave Winer has a long bet with Martin Nisenholtz, the CEO of New York Times Digital: which will be more authoritative in 2007, blogs or the New York Times? Dave is betting that it will be blogs.

There's another fatal flaw in the bigpub approach to journalism, that the reporter doesn't really need to know anything about the topic he or she is covering. If the reader doesn't know the technical details, the writer doesn't need to know either. But when I see the Times cover areas I am expert in, and miss the point completely, I wonder how well they're informing me in areas where I am a neophyte. I'm not from Missouri, I'm from Queens, but I still need to be shown that they are doing their jobs responsibly. I'm not impressed, so I look elsewhere for real news, and soon most other people with minds will too.

My bet with Martin Nisenholtz at the Times says that the tide has turned, and in five years, the publishing world will have changed so thoroughly that informed people will look to amateurs they trust for the information they want.

Personally I think Dave is being charitable... yes, sometimes the mainstream news misses the point. But it seems like more and more often lately they aren't so much failing to hit the point as they are actively creating a different point, one that is more fanciful and untruthful and more likely to rouse the rabble. The 'accidental' lies the news agencies are feeding us are only outnumbered by the 'cat in a tree' stories. They are making themselves increasingly irrelevant - or maybe it just looks that way to those of us in the reality-based community.

I hope Dave is right... I think an informed populace would be a good thing, and first-hand accounts of news items beats the hell out of wag-the-dog headlines. When the tsunami hit I didn't turn on the news - I went to the computer and read the news as it happened, with phone-cam video and very nearly real-time information. I'll take that over sensationalism any day.