Shirky is Wrong!
So sayeth Dave Winer:
I was bothered by Clay Shirky’s piece about the death of newspapers that got so much play over the last few days, and finally figured out why as I wrote this piece. He says that journalism is being replaced by nothing. This is why the press likes his piece so much, it’s been their main theme: You’ll miss us when we’re gone. The problem with this thesis is that while the press as been declining a new decentralized press has been booting up. I talk about this toward the end of today’s piece. The sources who no longer trust the journos, or aren’t being called by them when they have something to say, are going direct. This is what replaces journalism. It’s happening everywhere (Shirky’s piece is a great example of it). Sometimes the thing that’s hardest to see is what’s right in front of you.
I didn’t realize I was stepping into a pile of Shirky when I referenced it yesterday.
I believe Shirky is “half right”. He’s right about everything that’s crumbling, but he’s wrong about the lack of a replacement.
In a world of interconnected hypertext, I thought the irony was self evident. I was mistaken.
The (unspoken, and therefore way too subtle) joke was: “OH, noes! Print News is dying and there’s no replacement yet! We better build one!”
The newspapers think they have a lock on news and the death of their news distribution company means the end of news gathering.
Writers will starve!
Newspapers can’t conceive of not being the middlemen between well researched, well written journalism and the reader. Newsmen can’t conceive of a system where they don’t work for a “newspaper”. They get off on a tangent trying to redefine what a “newspaper” is (so the status quo isn’t inturrupted so much).
One side argues that they need to switch from dead trees to web pages and the other side complains about comments on fan blogs getting as much weight as “real newsmen”. Both sides think they need to hurry and neither side realizes that they’ve already been replaced.
They just don’t see it
The replacement was here before the old way started failing. It’s true in music. It’s true in Television and Movies. It’s true in news.
The RIAA thinks they have a lock on music distribution and they preach that the death of their music distribution company means the death of music writing and recording.
Musicians will starve!
The networks think they hav lock on “tv” distribution. They say that the death of their video distribution company means the death of well written, well acted, well produced television.
Actors will starve!
And if they mention the internet at all?
Blogs are unreliable! MySpace is Filled with Amateurs! YouTube Videos are all home videos!
Nevermind the fact that blogs became reliable, MySpace bands got big and Big Bands got MySpace, and The President of the United States got a YouTube Channel.
When I (poorly) made a sarcastic reference to Shirky yesterday, I should have written:
“OH, noes! TV is dying and there’s no replacement yet! We better build one!”
None of these “old media” players understand that the replacement is here already.