Rosen’s first point is that media power is now widely dispersed. Rosen wrote about atomisation at his own Press Think blog in January this year drawing on work by Daniel Hallin. Journalists used to be able to define who and what was in the news by virtue of their privileged place in the system. Audiences were atomised as they only talked to the media not to each other. But now there are many alternative networks and voices questioning the media’s right to define agendas. The sphere of legitimate controversy is expanding in both directions at the expense of consensus on one side and what was defined as deviance on the other. People are going around journalists for the news they want, overcoming atomisation.
This point is from Dave Winer in May. Sources are a crucial part of the news, says Winer. They will continue to have things to say, even if there is no longer a big media there to listen. Sources already act as quasi-journalists so it is not a great leap of logic to suggest they will either tell the news themselves or tell a blogger. Nature abhors a vacuum, Winer is saying, and journalists will not be missed if they disappear.#4 “When the people formerly known as the audience use the press tools they have to inform one another— that’s citizen journalism”.
This was Rosen in July 2008. It follows on from #3. Citizen, or open source journalism occurs organically whenever anyone publishes news or information.
#5 “There’s no such thing as information overload, there’s only filter failure”.
This is from fellow NYU professor Clay Shirky in December last year. Shirky is saying the problem is not the vast amount of information available. This superabundance is beyond the capability of any one person to fathom and we are all regularly confronted with too much information. What we do is filter the flow to make sense of the world. That means a patient process of continuous learning and unlearning. “If the twenty-year-olds aren’t complaining about information overload, it probably isn’t the problem we think it is,” says Shirky.
#6 “Do what you do best and link to the rest.”
This is the famous February 2007 dictum of Google economy advocate Jeff Jarvis. Jarvis’s message is a plea for specialisation: stop trying to become the media of record, and instead concentrate on what you are good at. You can still point to everything else thanks to the remarkable power of the hyperlink.
#7 “Half my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half.”
Unlike the first six recent quotes, this one is almost a century old. Rosen attributes it to Philadelphia businessman John Wanamaker (1838-1922). Wanamaker was talking about the eternal business quandary about whether to market products or brands. The problem has not gone away a hundred years later but perhaps could be solved with a more integrated view of return on investment.
#8 “‘Here’s where we’re coming from’ is more likely to be trusted than ‘the View from Nowhere’”.
Not exactly a quote but wisdom distilled from an ironically anonymous July blog post at hyperorg.com. The post is summarised in the title “transparency is the new objectivity”. The claim of objectivity always hides biases. There may be nothing wrong with those biases but the audience should know about them to make an informed decision. The net benefit is twofold: trust, and a more nuanced understanding of the issue as presented by the author.
#9 “The hybrid forms will be the strongest forms”.
Rosen’s post from June 2008 is evolutionary praise for mongrel media. Adaptability is required to flourish in an era of two-way and many-to-many communication. New forms will emerge using the best of closed and open systems (see #2). They will most likely be pro-am using a distributed reporting model.
#10 “My readers know more than I do.”
This is a well-known 2003 quote from blogger and journalist Dan Gillmor. In many respects, this is a statement of the obvious. Yet it is often forgotten – particularly by knowledgeable journalists who may know more about their issue than any other single person. It is in the journalists’ interest to co-opt this knowledge otherwise they will be sidelined (see #3 and #4). Gillmor sees it an opportunity not a threat and a necessary adaptation for survival (see #9).
Rosen signed off with the instruction “you gotta grok it before you can rock it”. Sci-fi writer Robert Heinlein coined the word grok to describe the collective influence the observer and the observed have on each other. In this case it means intuitively establishing a rapport with the tools and the times in order to master them. “Be the media” appeared to be Rosen’s parting advice to the people formerly known as his Sydney audience.