Home > Archive >  2009 >  May >  10

Door-slams by MSM journos

Sunday, May 10, 2009 by Dave Winer.

I've gotten lots of angry emails from mainstream journalists about things I've written here or on Twitter, esp in the last couple of years, as things have spiraled down in newspaper-land. I understand, somebody's got to be to blame for what's happening, and I'm convenient.  Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named chickenRoosting.gifBut I'm not the problem -- my writing about this stuff may be a symptom, when viewed from the top of the journalist ladder. If so, then what's the problem? The same thing that's happening to all other centralized knowledge-based professions, where there used to be gatekeepers earning a living based on the high cost of distributing information. As the cost has come down, the jobs have disappeared. Journalists are not the first to be hit by this, and as I've said many times, my own short-lived profession, developing shrink-wrap software for PCs, was devastated by this a long time ago. I was lucky to have saved some money, and also have shifted what I do, so I've continued to make money over the years, even though today no one earns a living the way I did at the beginning of my career.  Permalink to this paragraph

Today I said that journalism needs a cleansing, and I seriously believe it. I've been part of the journalism system for my entire career. When I launched products in the 80s, I did it through that system. I did reasonably well at first, because the journos understood my product. It was designed for people like them. Later I developed products that weren't so easy for a liberal arts major to understand and they didn't fare as well. But by that time I had the ability to write publicly without going through the journalism system, so even though that door was largely closed, I was still able to get the word out -- and in so doing, defined a new kind of writing which came to be known as blogging. Permalink to this paragraph

Today's journalists are already an anachronism, and I think they know it, and that's why there's so much anger. For many years they could pretend, like American homeowners, that their value was based on something permanent. I own a home myself, it's worth a lot less than I paid for it. I'm not happy about that, but as an adult I accept it. The same kind of acceptance is required of everyone who earns a living in journalism. And the higher up the ladder you climbed in your career, the harder that must be to accept. I get it.  Permalink to this paragraph

But I can't help you avoid the truth. My goal actually is to work with everyone else, who has been subject to the journalism system, even victimized by it. I've watched them sell us out over and over to the huge corporations that run the tech business. There's not much love lost here for the journos. If they did the job they say they do, following the truth where ever it leads, we would have avoided a lot of problems. But they don't do that. They avoid risks, like most people. They aren't the swashbuckling and courageous investigators portrayed in the movies. They're gray, average people who feel superior to the rest of us. And that veneer is disappearing now.  Permalink to this paragraph

When I pushed RSS, my hope was to create a level playing field, so that if journalists wanted to do excellent work and stick their necks out, it could be seen, but not with any advantage over the amateurs, the bloggers, who would have full access to the same distribution system. RSS was a total subversion of the way information used to flow, but only tapped into the power that the Internet gave us, in itself it wasn't revolutionary -- that came from the inexorable lowering of the cost of publishing and the simplification of the process, and the ease of the tools. All of these things together are what is undermining the journalism business.  Permalink to this paragraph

Some people say I don't understand the economics of journalism, but I think I do. It's the old economics that I don't understand,. No one can understand that, because it no longer works. Permalink to this paragraph

   Recent stories

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, 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.


Dave Winer Mailto icon

© Copyright 1994-2009 Dave Winer Mailto icon.

Last update: 5/10/2009; 8:12:38 PM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

Click here to view blogs commenting on  RSS 2.0 feed.