My old blogger buddy Jeff Jarvis is trying to figure out what’s happening to the news, and how to inject a little optimism into the business:
This Friday, Iâ€™m giving a keynote at the University of Texas International Symposium on Online Journalism. My topic: â€œThe end of the mourning, mewling, and moaning about the future of journalism: Why Iâ€™m a cock-eyed optimist about news.â€ Iâ€™d like your help. Tell me why youâ€™re optimistic about news: what we can do now that we couldnâ€™t do before, where you see growth, where you see new opportunities. (Iâ€™ll put the spiel up as soon as I figure out how to export Keynote with my notes.)
Here’s what I’d tell the children:
The good news about the news is that there’s no shortage of news. The best experts forecast a nearly boundless supply of news clear into the next century, so the news conservation efforts of the past (recycling, echo-chambering, and other forms of plagiarism) are no longer necessary and will phase out as soon as we have the means to harvest the coming bumper-crop of news.
And things aren’t just rosy on the supply side, they’re looking real good on the demand side. Previous generations of news consumers had to get by on two newsfeeds a day, one before work in the morning and the other after work. Now we can graze and forage on news all day long without becoming over-educated.
The challenge to news harvesters is in the construction of the apparatus that harvests raw news, processes it, and takes it to market. In previous generations, this process was most efficient when centralized in local news factories, but today and tomorrow the process will become more decentralized, sometimes even taking place on consumer premises under the control of news robots which sift, sort, organize, and filter according to consumer preferences. The process of moving these functions from central offices to consumer equipment is just beginning, although we’ve had working prototypes of the news robot for 25 years.
The revenue picture has never been brighter, as each feed is easily supported by multiple sources of ad and subscriber fees.
The key elements are understanding that decentralization is in fact multiple centralization, and that each center of news processing is a potential revenue generator. That’s all I wish to say at the moment, but you can do the math.
And Hook ‘Em.