As a journalism major, I really find the challenges that reporters and MSM are facing these days to be incredibly interesting. For me, the writing part was always the easy part; it was the reporting that I found and still find difficult, and these days the rules are being rewritten. Witness the brouhaha that’s been building over at Wired as one of it’s reporters has been trying to do a story on some Web 2.0 types who don’t want to play by the traditional rules. Jeff Jarvis deconstructs the whole affair in his blog, and if you want to get a sense of how radical this is, imaging the following as part of the new model:
As Winer says: “So if you want to work together, let’s find a new way to do it. I’m fed up with the old system. The way we start the reboot is to do all our work out in the open, real-time. Not via email, but in full view of everyone.” Examine the possible benefits of this: The reporter asks a question and I answer it. But I get it wrong and a reader pipes in to give a correction. Isn’t that a better way? I read my answers as I write them and improve them myself. What’s wrong with that? Why should the reporter get the opportunity to rewrite and edit and I don’t? Why should the reporter get to look smarter than the subjects? The best reporters, after all, go to find people who are smarter and know more than they do to get the best story. Ah, but I can hear some of you saying, wouldn’t this blow an exclusive? Well the exclusive has a fleeting value of about 30 seconds anymore anyway. And what’s exclusive about what Dave Winer has to say about Mike Arrington? If anyone owns that exclusive, it’s Dave, no? And Dave’s stance is that if he has anything to say on a subject, he’ll say it on his blog. Welcome to the transparent era, my fellow journalists. You want transparency? This is transparency.
What’s fascinating to me is just being able to watch this play out. Seems like every day the challenges mount. I know in my own case that I would much rather use the wisdom of the crowd to help me make decisions than the traditional advertisements I’ve been peppered with all my life. I mean really, how long will advertising as we know it have any effect on what we buy when we can connect to people who we actually trust to guide us?