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.