New Journalism: those who get it, those who don’t

Photograph of Henry Porter

Increasingly, I’m getting annoyed with otherwise-intelligent people who simply don’t “get” what is happening as our world becomes hyperconnected and rail against it. The man in the photo is Henry Porter. He doesn’t get it. But a pseudonymous commenter at The Poll Bludger this morning does. And he explains it better than I ever have.

Ah, the contrast!

In a piece for The Observer, Porter’s headline warns that Google is just an amoral menace. The ever-growing empire produces nothing but seems determined to control everything, we’re told.

Exactly 20 years after Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote the blueprint for the world wide web, the Internet has become the host to a small number of dangerous WWMs — worldwide monopolies that sweep all before them with exuberant contempt for people’s rights, their property and the past…

One of the chief casualties of the web revolution is the newspaper business, which now finds itself laden with debt (not Google’s fault) and having to give its content free to the search engine in order to survive. Newspapers can of course remove their content but then their own advertising revenues and profiles decline. In effect they are being held captive and tormented by their executioner, who has the gall to insist that the relationship is mutually beneficial. Were newspapers to combine to take on Google they would be almost certainly in breach of competition law.

It’s worth reading the full rantbecause it completely misses the point: I only found Porter’s piece because Google had told me about it.

Google didn’t “steal” his content. It produced a new audience member. And that’s what all media outlets produce: an audience for their advertisers — or, in the case of the ABC and SBS, an audience sufficiently large to justify their existence.

Ever though I think this one piece by Porter is full of shit, I clicked through, read about him, and discovered much better pieces about his concerns for our declining civil liberties and how the decline of one-way TV sets the scene for increased public debate. Porter now has a new reader because of Google.

However that commenter over at The Poll Bludger, yes, he got it right…

Responding to another commenter’s suggestion that Google should set up its own news operations, dolphin-avatar’d The Finnigans said:

Google doesn’t need to. News service is also an old hat. Citizen journalism via blogs, video posting à la YouTube, social networking sites and the latest Twitter-type news sharing. News service will also heading the oblivion path that is the print and classified media are heading.

As someone who was there from the beginning, Mosiac Browser V0.1, Web Server v0,1 and HTML V0.1 on Windows NT for the main streamers. Yes, I know the Unix guys have been hacking away for years, but it did take Mosaic browser to take it to the masses on Windows.

We knew from the beginning that aggregation will be the king. We actually built the first web crawler in Australia that aggregate contents across websites. But we didn’t have the resources to build a proper search engine. So good on Google for making billions because they do build the best search engine there is.

We also knew the Web/Internet will smash the monopoly and democratise the content creation, publishing and distribution. Especially distribution, the print media was supreme because it controls its own distribution channel via the newsagency channel. Any business that has control and monopoly over the distribution network, it’s a very good and profitable business, just ask Telstra.

But now, the distribution networks or channels are commodity, especially with the arrival of the wireless. The mobiles will be king in the next few years. In Japan, Korea, USA and some European countries, 50% of the internet traffic now are coming through the mobiles. It’s still early days for the mobiles, that is why I suggested to William that he should talk to his master at Crikey about putting together a mobile version of PB.

Rupert said people should pay for the contents. I am not prepare to pay for data, information, knowledge any more, they are commodity, they are available everywhere. I will pay for wisdom. Sorry Rupert, your publications do not have any wisdom and you have missed the bus many times and still missing. Adios Amigo.

BTW: I notice Microsoft has stopped selling its encyclopedia Encarta, obviously it has been killed by Wiki, just as it killed Britannica.

A demonstrator throws a computer screen at the windows of a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland, near the Bank of England in London, 1 April 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Winning.

Pre-fucking-cisely! I explained this in my piece Journalism in a hyperconnected world, when I discovered I could track the Bangkok riots of 7 October 2008 through Twitter far better than through any “mainstream” news outlet.

Campbell Reid, the Group Managing Director at News Limited, got it right when he told the ABC’s “Quality Journalism” forum that “me-too journalism” is the cancer because it wastes resources.

Why do news editors send someone to cover a media conference which is already being streamed live?

Take a look at the photos of this week’s G20 demonstrations in London. Why is there a pack of photographers at every little violent incident, producing hundreds if not thousands of almost-identical images?

Some news sites have already given up.

Fairfax, for instance, produced Heatwave gets them all aTwitter simply by copying and pasting tweets — spelling mistakes and all — with the journalist doing nothing more than adding some weather data cribbed from AAP and elsewhere.

As Newsphobia points out, Twitter is not a Lazy Journalist’s Replacement for Vox Pop.

Fairfax gets away with this because Twitter users are still a minority. For now. But for those who do use Twitter, who do see the trending topics display and, since the Internet is so handy, to the Bureau of Meteorology‘s weather observations, Fairfax added nothing of value.

Who were these people? Where were they? What were they doing?

Where was the engagement with the community which demonstrated that the Fairfax was producing, as The Finnigans puts it, Wisdom?

2 Replies to “New Journalism: those who get it, those who don’t”

  1. Google is the best friend an artist ever had. They generously allow people to find my art as they search for keywords and if they like the thumbnail Google has indexed then they visit my site, for free, no obligation. If I had advertising on my site I would stand to make money because of Google so it’s a win/win, too bad that guy doesn’t get it!

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