So journalism as we know it is breaking and online is a hotbed of contradiction, experiments and half thought out games. But what if there were no existing rules?
The panic from big media houses and existing publishers is addictive. They’re closing down in small pockets of despair. People are losing their livelihoods – writers, cartoonists, columnists and printers. It’s a bit like the closing of a global mine. People are coping though – you are, I can see you are otherwise there would be carnage. It’s difficult and threatening and depressing, but there’s retraining and a whole truckload of new ideas to be tried. Though none of us look as though we’re going to get rich from it just now.
Those who have a little to spare are setting up their new ideas online. They are the middlemen and technologists providing fresh attempts to crack the nut. They mediate between big publishing houses that often eat up ideas or buy out successful applications – what’s a girl to do when she feels as though she’s wearing water wings in this tide?
Citizen reporters, big leviathan publishers, people who write blogs and take video or audio online, pod casters are still in the room and twitter dances about us in wisps and strings of short form update. Sometimes it’s a little like swimming (yeah, still with water wings – I’m not much of a swimmer) in primordial soup. It’s a bit yuk, slightly worrying at times and nutritious at others. No one knows which way to bet as to what animal will emerge to breathe on land, or if it will have the right number of legs. A leap should be made a risk taken, an unholy alliance and an experiment gone right, but I don’t know that combination, so never ask me. I can’t even swim.
Through this inspiring ebb and tide of mild data online, there was a question that reached out at the Media140 gathering recently. “What about the people who need news who are not online?” It was like a clear bell in a room full of people who had lost their memory. We’re failing those people as we mill about in online data. Someone must be dealing with the mess we turn our backs on and there’s still a lot of people who read carbon copy. They deserve a bit of quality for their loyalty don’t they? After all, it’s their coins that fill the coffers poured into online development.
I’m failing those people right now. Not that I expect they would be remotely bothered to read this, but they cannot. They cannot add their voice or opinion here, they cannot hear me scream or if magically I came up with a thought that was brilliant, that would not be available to them either. But would they want to? Can you imagine a paper subscription edition of blogs delivered to your door every morning? You could read it in the bath.
The arguments for and against a papery news are already known and have been hashed around endlessly, so I’ll not go into that here. But if the papers die and people are not online, where’s the news going to come from? TV? Radio? Should these areas be refined if the papers are disappearing?
Rather than shaping a comprehensive news outlet online with multi platform tricks, whiz-bang graphics and flashy-ass adverts, what if some of the principles we learned online were fed right back into paper – radically, with confidence. Paper reorganised with a column down the side telling you what other papers the writer reads? Lots of nice pictures printed beautifully with a way to find where all of those pictures came from?
OK – so that’s probably not really going to work, unless I can have 4D goggles now…can I? Now? No? OK. I wonder though, without the shackles of old media how different would our ideas be for presenting news media? Would they be different at all? Imagine a newspaper if you had never seen one but existed in a web only society and wanted to share the news with an offline audience? How would you try it?
Maybe contrail headlines one day…but I’d imagine that’s about as environmentally friendly as cutting down trees and … oh.