Geeks And Dead Trees

Mar 22, 2009 by

So any one can start a blog. But does that qualify them as “journalists?”

And more importantly, whom can, or should, you trust?

And by the way, where’s this whole newspaper/Internet thing going anyway?

SFgate.com columnist Mark Morford has a great article reviewing what the top tech gurus are saying about old media and the future. It also addresses the above points. I’ve quoted it extensively on the jump, but check out the whole article.

Quote: Look, I’m all for media upheaval and revolution. I’m all for seeing what will emerge from the ashes of print, should it die out completely. But there’s a reason the traditional newsroom model has lasted 150 years, that professional journalism is still considered so vital to a healthy democracy, that it’s still a profession requiring years of training and education, and not just a casual hobby you engage in when you’re a little drunk and you’ve read a few McLuhan books and you don’t get enough sex so hey, might as well mosey over to that Planning Commission meeting and scribble some notes.

There’s also a reason that saying “I read it on XYZ blog, so it must be true” still carries little weight in a serious discussion, whereas, “I read it in the Washington Post,” gives you instant authority. Instant cred. Even today. Especially today. Has that authority unraveled and weakened in the wake of the Net and news-as-entertainment? Absolutely. Do we have anything better? Not yet. Not by a long shot.

All these provocateur pundits are right about one thing: something new and hopefully wonderful might emerge out of the ashes of the death of print. It is indeed a great time for experimentation, new thinking, even tentative optimism.

But it’s also enormously sad and troubling. Because even if you say you still want great journalism, serious investigative reporting, and lots of news expertise, the Internet and its various pundits have all led us to believe that no one is willing to actually pay for it. And they never will be. Let’s hope they’re very, very wrong.

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