Google running circles around the journos
Friday, August 17, 2007 by Dave Winer.
LA Times editorial on Google's new feature that allows people mentioned in a news article to respond. Google's new program is a very rough approximation of what truly open media provides, something the newspapers themselves should be doing.
The pros are right to be worried. This is the last quarter of a game they're losing, and the opposing team is deep in their territory. They need to get the ball back and then connect on a few Hail Mary's to even be in the game. Yet all they're doing is weakly protesting that "this isn't journalism." We need information. To say it's not journalism now is like a priest saying it's not Catholic to a bunch of agnostics. You're answering a question no one is asking.
A news story should summarize points of view that are available in full on the newspaper website. If they were smart they'd try to host the blogs of the people they quote. Instead they cling to the fiction that they have the exclusive wisdom to decide which soundbites and points of view are relevant, and the reader needs nothing more than what they provide. This is wrong, the world is too complicated, and the resources of news organizations are shrinking and our appetite for information is exploding (and the tools for creating and using news are getting better all the time).
If a reader wants to find out what's really going on they have to search thoroughly for many views of the same event and try to piece it together. The first news organization that embraces that view wins. Google is taking first steps to be that news organization.
Yesterday at Mozilla, I urged them to get aggressive with powerful RSS support in the browser. Like the news organizations, if they wait much longer, Google Reader will have too much of a lead to catch. It may already be too late. In their case, much of their funding comes from Google, and if Google is smart (they are) somewhere on their vast campus, which surrounds the tiny Mozilla building, in a corner of Google-land in Mountain View, they are working on their own fork of the Mozilla codebase, one designed perfectly to run their apps (mail, spreadsheet, calendar, maps, search, widgets, wp, etc). Mozilla is in the same place as the rest of us, about to be swamped by the Google juggernaut.