Journalism must evolve into the net
Journalism has to go through an evolution where it opens up to more voices, and we, the users of news, need them to compete with Facebook, not surrender to them.
by Dave Winer Wednesday, February 22, 2017

There's an idea that keeps coming up that the tech industry ought to give a huge amount of money to the journalism industry. 

I first wrote about the idea after hearing it on a panel discussion at the J-school at UC-Berkeley in 2009. "Give us money because we're losing" seemed to be the argument. 

The idea came up yesterday in a post by Emily Bell on the CJR website. Same argument as the Berkeley panel:

What independent journalism needs more than ever from Silicon Valley is a significant transfer of wealth.

I forwarded the post on Twitter with a single word comment: Pathetic. I was going to leave it at that, but then I found myself ranting in DMs to Mathew Ingram, a journalist friend. What came out was somewhat coherent, here's what I wrote.

  • The reason I think it's pathetic is that it's a way of avoiding the changes that journalism has been avoiding.
  • Instead of competing with Facebook, which would lead journalism to its new relevance, they want a handout.
  • Well I want a handout too. Who wouldn't want a handout?
  • But this is a request to avoid growth, and no one is entitled to that.
  • It's immoral, it's lazy, it's unsupportable. And btw, practically speaking it's powerless. It just isn't going to happen. 
  • So journalism ought to have a good Plan B. It's right here, ready for you all to use, it's called the web. It's made for journalism.


I couldn't help myself, I had to write more. ;-)

Facebook sucks for news. We can create something so much better. I have tried to work with them, to get them to change in small ways that would help the web, and make Facebook a more adequate surface for writing, and keep hitting the same wall. They like their business the way it is. That imho makes them ripe for competition. 

They might give journalism some money, but that isn't the answer. Journalism has to become what Facebook refuses to become. It's tough. But that's the way human evolution works. 

Yes we need journalism, but the journalism we need is not what Bell describes, we need something re-born out of the web. I've been right about a lot of stuff over the years, and the journalism thinkers have never understood until it actually happens. 

It won't go the way Bell wants it to go. But journalism will thrive on the net, I'm sure of it. Further it can't thrive in the environment Facebook has created. And as long as they're on top and generating all that money they have no incentive to change. And once they feel the heat, it'll be too late for them.

That about sums it up. :balloon: