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Changing the way we do news

Friday, November 07, 2008 by Dave Winer.

What didn't change in the 2008 election is the way news flowed. This is a big disappointment to me and something that causes great concern. I see the newspapers dying, and the broacast media failing to do news, and I want to evolve to the next thing, but it doesn't seem that's the way it'll go. Instead we're likely to see a sudden collapse, and a void, much like the financial collapse in September. This would be tragic, unneccesary, a very bad for us. Permalink to this paragraph

The next thing, btw, involves the same spirit of volunteerism that drove the Obama campaign. It should be possible for a citizen like you or me to take a one month leave of absence, just like doing jury duty, and go to a news story and camp out and cover it. It's not so hard to do. If a citizen can be trained to render a life and death decision (sometimes) fairly and carefully, we can also learn to get "Just the facts ma'am" and report the news alongside the pros. In case the pros should either disappear or fail to be professional. Permalink to this paragraph

In order to do this we're going to need the cooperation of the people who the press covers, for example, a new administration taking office. But unless they get this big idea real soon, it can't happen.  Permalink to this paragraph

People are thinking too small, imho. Bloggers in the White House briefing room? Of course. But if the same gatekeeping applies, you're just going to have people who get through the gates. There's really no difference betw a columnist that works for the Washington Post and one who writes for Talking Point Memo. Yet some how we should feel that we're being better represented by the latter? I don't. They're still gatekeepers, and people like you and me are on the outside looking in, getting the news they want to give us, through their lens, from their perspective, and missing a lot of what's going on and what matters. The only way to turn the system upside down is to just do it, and have a system whereby fresh blood comes in, systematically.  Permalink to this paragraph

It's been flattering when people have said I should be the country's CTO. First of all, it isn't going to happen, and second, I'm not a good candidate. Most of the technology you'd need to be a good CTO is stuff I just use, and am not an expert at. (That said, one of the first things our new CTO should do is uncover and expose the games Comcast and other big Internet vendors are playing with public access to the net. We paid for the development of the net through tax dollars, they can use it, like everyone else but it's not their place to throttle or control it.) Permalink to this paragraph

The job I really want is designing and implementing an open platform for news for our government, and of course that would quickly become the way of doing news in all walks of life. We need something fast here, even the strongest news organizations are seriously undermined and could disappear within months. Just having a blogger inside the new administration is not nearly enough. Permalink to this paragraph

Anyway, I'm thinking that a flash conference in NY, DC or Cambridge, like the one we did after the 2004 election at Stanford, might be a good idea. Last night I asked Jay Rosen at NYU what he thought of this, and he was positive. We might do it. I'm thinking about new non-BloggerCon formats, that get people talking about specific ideas as opposed to having wide-ranging discussions. I think we've now learned enough about blogging and public media to work on the next level of change.  Permalink to this paragraph


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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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