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Gab Goldenberg weighs in on the Chris Anderson/Malcolm Gladwell FREE controversy responding to a comment by Seth Godin about where journalism, and editing, might be headed.

"I’m a great fan of Seth Godin...but a risk that is always present in that type of writing is to mistake causation with correlation."

This is a guest post on Michael Gray’s blog.
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from davidmihm 1938 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Gab, solid insights here.  I’ve been following the Gladwell/Anderson back-and-forth mostly via Greg Sterling’s blog, as I am sure you have as well...I argued some similar points a couple of weeks ago, namely that most ’newspapers’ WERE in the commodity business these days & that the future of actual journalism is bright, given the flattening of the production and distribution mechanisms.  You’re absolutely right that economically, newspapers should have done away with paid contributors before, since they had a monopoly on the means of production.  But I think that many traditional papers actually did give some moral weight to the idea of a free press as central to democracy...anymore, I tend to think most of them are just in it for the money given the massive consolidation in the newspaper business under multi-national corporations like NewsCorp, etc.However, I do agree with Seth that editors can still play a central role in this whole process.  There IS going to be an ’information overload’ problem and at some point people will be willing to pay for an intelligent, unbiased person to sort the wheat from the chaff.  (And yes, I readily admit editors are rarely unbiased even in the current model).  Anyway, this article really got me thinking again, about one of my favorite subjects.  Thanks for writing.

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from crimsongirl 1938 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Goldenberg says "Nowadays, newspapers are mistakenly filling their pages with wire content. This commodifies them. As I suggested in this article on the risk distribution, the path to saving newspapers is more journalism, not less! More research, less rehash!" Correct.  The response of so many traditional media companies seems to be just: well, let’s put our content on the web and try to monetize it there.  And in the short-term, let’s make ends meet by cutting costs the way we always have: laying off journalists and using purchased content from the Associated Press.   Some of us (me) are old enough to remember that 20 years ago most local papers were filling their pages with wire-service articles and non-time-sensitive feature stuff, too.  The difference is that 20 years ago people subscribed to their local paper to read those articles.  With the internet, there is no particular reason to visit your local newspaper’s website just to read AP articles.   Further, newspapers always had feature type stories, for instance, on gardening, personal finance, the history of whatever holiday is coming up this month.  Nothing wrong with those articles and people liked to read them, but with the web, readers can access that information any time they want.  They don’t need a daily paper (or RSS feed) to provide this content on the publisher’s schedule.  Search technology makes it available on demand.   Blogs are a great platform for pontificators to share their opinions about what’s happening in the world, but somebody, somewhere, has to find out the news so the bloggers can rehash it.  How the journalists of the future are going to get paid – I don’t have any answer for that.  I don’t think anyone does yet.  May a hundred business models bloom.  Most will fail, but some will succeed (fingers crossed).

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from Gab 1938 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"However, I do agree with Seth that editors can still play a central role in this whole process.  There IS going to be an ’information overload’ problem and at some point people will be willing to pay for an intelligent, unbiased person to sort the wheat from the chaff.  (And yes, I readily admit editors are rarely unbiased even in the current model). "I agree with Seth there. Actually, I think either Chris Anderson or Malcolm Gladwell made that point in one of their books lol - that we need filters with all this info. The filters = powerful people!David, thanks so much for your kind words and sphinning this!@Crimsongirl - With all the news junkies, I’d imagine that a newspaper dedicated solely to investigative journalism could sell subscriptions at a good rate. It’d be the print version of 60 minutes. 60 minutes is still extremely popular, so there you go. Just so long as they don’t do a feature on government grants or acai berries...

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from crimsongirl 1937 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Bloomberg reports today that the New York Times is "considering" charging $5/month for access to its website, nytimes.com.The NY Times is arguably the premiere brand in US journalism.  It would be interesting to see if that would work.  I tend to doubt they would get many subscribers, at least in the short term.

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from seobro 1936 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Go Seth Go! You are pointing to a valid problem. It appears that even small community newspapers have trouble surviving in this new "Googlized" world. They have seen advertising take a hit with our current economic recession. Please write more articles about how too much power in too few hands is killing our freedom.

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from lohwengk 1935 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@seobro,It sounds like you are saying that Google democratizes information on the web. If that is indeed what you mean, then I have to disagree. Instead of the old world order where a magnate like Murdoch (or some government) tells a newspaper what to publish or not publish, it’s now Google deciding whether or not something should show up on page 1, and how it should be presented.There is a lot of opinion on how Google decides what to show in their search results. Google claims that they try to show relevant results. Unfortunately, their system (both natural search as well as paid search) is basically a black box, which they can manipulate at will behind the scenes.I guess what I’m saying is that in the past, there are 3, 4 or 5 different major newspapers deciding what we see. However, we had some confidence that they would present something reasonably truthful because they were rivals competing with each other to make money. If these papers disappear, then we’ll be stuck with one company deciding what we see. I find this worrying.

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from Gab 1935 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@lohwengk I don’t think that was bro’s point. But it’s not clear either what his point was. Seemed kinda like an offtopic rant?

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from bpcombs 1934 Days ago #
Votes: 0

The newspapers have taken what was primarily a revenue problem (declining advertising due to declining readership) and tried to solve it with cost cutting (replacing journalists with wire service). You can see the results of this on their website homepages.If I go to the homepage of the Austin American Statesmen (my local paper) or any other regional or super-regional, and the majority of the real estate is taken up with national news. Quite frankly, I don't go there for national news. For that, I'll go to CNN or search Google News.I want local news from my local paper. Unfortunately, they've all cut their news staffs to the point where there's very little local news.

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