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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

News people must study their users Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday I wrote a piece saying that point of view is everything when thinking about the future of news.

The newspapers always approach the question of their continued existence from their own point of view, which of course is understandable. But it doesn't yield an answer, because that point of view is what's disappearing.

If they could consider other points of view, two in particular, they might get somewhere.The two points of view are:

1. People with news.

2. People who want news.

Source and destination. Reporters are distributors. And editors are facilitators of distribution.

If the people with the news can publish it themselves, and they can; what's to stop the people who want the news from reading it directly.

When professional news people consider the Internet they think of it replacing them. Not so. It reduces their role to a bare minimum, makes them less necessary. I still want soundbites from the sources, but I want them to link to the full blog post behind the quote. Too often, in the past, reporters played funny games with partial quotes, or by quoting one person after another as if they were speaking in sequence, when in reality neither had any idea that the other was being quoted. I want the collection of wisdom, I'll draw my own conclusions, as a reader that's my right. (I'll do it anyway, even if the reporters try to mislead me, that's why we're all so suspicious of the news, we were trained to be.)

If reporters are to remain relevant they have to recast themselves, more humbly. Don't think about "deputizing" us to do what you do. Instead think of the value of your rolodex, your sources. Cultivate and develop that rolodex. To the extent that you know who to call when a bit of news breaks, that's the extent of your value in the new world, the one we live in now.

An example I often cite. When there's a fire in Santa Barbara, I know where to go. Doc Searls has staked out that turf in the blogosphere. When there's a breaking story on his beat, his blog has all the pointers you need to get quickly informed. Pictures too.

A picture named accordion.gifAnother example. Paul Krugman's blog. When the economy is crumbling, as it is now, he reads a lot of other blogs and points to the ones I need to read to stay informed. Sharing this kind of stuff is a human impulse. I doubt if Dr. Krugman gets paid extra to do this, and I know Doc doesn't. This is the amateur spirit. And it's how we're going to route around the outage if the news industry collapses. (However it would be better if the news industry didn't, which is why I bother to write these missives, for over a decade now.)

To the news industry, I suggest that instead of having another brainstorming session among news people, instead let's convene a conference where the people who speak are news users, the #1s and #2s, and the reporters, editors and owners do what they're supposed to do, sit in the audience and take notes. Later they can tell us what we said. Sounds boring perhaps? Well folks, that's what reporters do.

The solution to the puzzle is in the minds and hearts of the people who want to tell a story and the people who want to listen. And of course some days we might be in one category and the next day in the other. Or I might have expertise in one area, and need to acquire it in another.

So the first step in solving the problem is understanding what the users want from news. This is knowledge the news industry has carefully avoided attaining. Seriously. I'm not kidding. And it seems to me there's the problem.

Hank Williams asks if the papers are reaching The End Of Days?

Sending email to subscribers Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Update 8:40AM. I got hMailServer to work on one of my Windows servers. I had tried it before but couldn't get it to work. Seems perhaps as if the problem is solved.

I was over at Fred Wilson's blog and saw something interesting I hadn't thought of as an alternative to managing an email server. For background see yesterday's post.

Right now we're using Google Groups to send email to people who want to subscribe, but even that depends on us having a working mail server for us to send mail to from a script.

This is basically the only function I need a mail server for, so I was wondering if there's a web service somewhere I could use for this function? Fred uses FeedBlitz. I'm going to check it out, but I'm not sure if it'd work for me. They make users get an account. That sounds like too much of a committment.

Do any of you have any recommendations? Barring that, does anyone have a mail server I could use? I know that sounds pathetic, but I'm so fed up with mail servers. It used to be so easy, but then the spammers ruined it.


Last update: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 2:53 PM Pacific.

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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