News will go on

UC-Berkeley’s School of Jour­nal­ism recently hosted a panel dis­cus­sion about the San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle and it’s future (or some might say, lack thereof). The always per­ti­nent Dave Winer attended and shared his thoughts on his blog today. In a very inter­est­ing post he writes that:

I got the floor very briefly, at the end, after Scott Rosen­berg tried to explain that jour­nal­ism could hap­pen with­out news­pa­pers (he has posted his own account). I said the sources would take over the news. Not enough reporters cov­er­ing the court­room? The judge will report, as will the jurors, the attor­neys, the plain­tiff, the defend­ent. It will be messier, I would have said had I had the time to com­plete the thought, but more truth will come out.

I said that fif­teen years ago I was unhappy with the way jour­nal­ism was prac­ticed in the tech indus­try, so I took mat­ters into my own hands. And then dozens of peo­ple did, and then hun­dreds fol­lowed, and now we get much bet­ter infor­ma­tion about tech. It will hap­pen every­where, in pol­i­tics, edu­ca­tion, the mil­i­tary, health, sci­ence, you name it. The sources will fill in where we used to need journalists.

This is one of the clear­est and most believ­able descrip­tions of the future of news that I have read recently. Winer’s com­par­i­son to the tech indus­try is great. Fif­teen years ago, who could have believed that sites like Engad­get, TechCrunch, Mac­world, and more would have the traf­fic that they now do? Some of these sites, specif­i­cally The Unof­fi­cial Apple Weblog, use con­tent cre­ated by dozens of writ­ers to syn­the­size into a com­pre­hen­sive site for news of their par­tic­u­lar topic.

Per­haps the tra­di­tional model of jour­nal­ism will fall com­pletely on its face in the com­ing months or years (my money’s on yes, it will). This should not be cause for alarm and despair though, it should be cause for inno­va­tion and progress. Be thank­ful that we’re put in a posi­tion where indi­vid­u­als can truly have a sig­nif­i­cant effect on the future of one of the more respected indus­tries in the nation.