I just read Mathew Ingram's report on John Paton's talk about the future of news. I agree with what Paton says, but with an important caveat. He doesn't go far enough. The change he describes will not be at equilibrium. It is not the shape of the news system of the future. The practice he describes will not hold back the tide.
What I've advocated to news organizations for 15 years, which has been ignored probably because it is so distasteful to the people in positions of power in the news industry, is that they reform around the idea of sources with the ability to communicate direct to readers. The role of news professionals in this future is to choose quotes from each of the sources to form something like stories. To distribute authority through the trust that readers have in their name, a trust that is rapidly diminishing, with good cause. In this model not only is the gatekeeping function gone, but so is the media function. We live in the age of disintermediation. A fancy way of saying we've disempowered the entity in the middle. Perhaps not eliminated them, but they no longer rule.
If you want proof it's all around. Rick Santorum was able to become a leading candidate without money or the support of the media. Same with every other front-runner in the 2012 election cycle, except for Romney and Obama. The media worked actively against the Occupy movement, but that didn't slow it down. The story got out anyway.
There was an obvious opportunity here before blogging took hold, by offering to host the platforms for the most influential people in your community. It's probably still not too late to do this, but it won't be as powerful today as it would have been before WordPress, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter.
The news people may still not like this because they aren't the heroes, but get this -- they never were, and this is where I agree with Paton emphatically. The bug in the mental model of news people is that they are gatekeepers. This may have been true because the means of distribution were expensive, but it's no longer true. And besides, the news writers were just employees anyway, the people with the power were the people with the capital to buy the machinery.
PS: If I were advising an existing publication how to get started down the Sources Go Direct path, I'd urge them to start a river, aggregating the feeds of the bloggers you most admire, and the other news sources they read. Share your sources with your readers, understanding that almost no one is purely a source or purely a reader. Mix it all up. Create a soup of ideas and taste it frequently. Connect everyone that's important to you, as fast as you can, as automatically as possible, and put the pedal to the metal and take your foot off the brake.