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A Plan B for news?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008 by Dave Winer.

Jeff Jarvis responds to my series of pieces about news after the hypothetical collapse of the news industry. I wrote a comment there, which I'm reproducing here, with some light edits. Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named albumCover.jpgJeff, the stuff you're justifying is the stuff that's going away, that there is no money to support. If we all care about the news, and making sure that it gets from the people who have it to the people who want it, we're going to have to learn how to do it without all the heavy iron. It seems to me the responsible thing for the news industry to do, while it is laying off its reporters and editors and the rest, is to help us come up with a Plan B -- what we will do for news once all that is gone. Permalink to this paragraph

An analogy -- imagine a group of doctors knew that the hospitals and pharmacies were about to shut down. What would they do? Might they do something to make sure their client's health needs were at least partially attended to? Permalink to this paragraph

The same would presumably apply to many other professions, whose services are in some way necessary for life: police, fire, bus drivers, teachers, garbage collectors. Permalink to this paragraph

We're often asked to believe how noble the profession of news is -- now that is about to be tested in a whole new way. Are we just supposed to cry for this industry and throw our hands up and wait for the collapse before starting to put it back together, or would they like to help while they're still here? Permalink to this paragraph

Here's a question I ask people privately to help focus their thinking... Suppose there were no NY Times tomorrow, and you heard somewhere, maybe on Politco or Huffpost or Memeorandum that it had gone out of business and was never going to publish again. Permalink to this paragraph

1. How would you feel? Permalink to this paragraph

2. What would you do? Permalink to this paragraph

3. What should the Times have done but didn't do before they shut down? Permalink to this paragraph

Food for thought. Permalink to this paragraph

It's time to have this conversation Jeff. Imho. ;-> Permalink to this paragraph

Update: Scott Rosenberg checks in on the thread. "Victimhood is written deeply in the culture of the newsroom." Permalink to this paragraph

Newsosaur: "A newspaper that cannot sell enough advertising or cut enough expenses to sustain profitable operations is not likley to make it to the other side of 2009." 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.

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