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Sunday, March 06, 2005

Here's a Road Map for How the MSM and Blogosphere Can Make the News Future

There aren't many folks in the Blogosphere who have so much to say about so many things with so much emotion as BuzzMachine's Jeff Jarvis. The man is a word and thought machine. His politics sometimes ... uh, puzzle me ... but on more than a few topics I listen carefully when Jeff Jarvis speaks.

The future of the news business is one of the topics on which I listen most closely to Jarvis because he is a consumate voice within the MSM and the Blogosphere, one of the few demonstrated successes in both worlds. That's one reason he gets invited to a lot of the high-brow journalism conferences at stuffy places like Harvard for panel discussions and seminars on esoteric topics like "the future of news."

His latest post on his most recent foray to such a conference contains a masterful draft of a strategy for building a news organization that combines the strengths of both the MSM and the Blogosphere. Here's how he introduces the draft that was produced by a small group that got off to itself and did some original thinking:

"This one began like all the others and ended like all the others, in the dreaded small-group sessions (no, no, anything but that, oh, god, not the easel!). But at least and at last we started to talk not about the love of what had been or the fear of what is now, but instead about the possibilities for what news can be. In
"In this small group -- among them, the AP's Jim Kennedy, Susan Mernit, Halley Suitt, MIT's Michael Schrage, and others whose names I'm sorry I don't have with me right now -- we batted around new models for the future, acting as if we were in charge of a local news business in five years."

What follows are organizational concepts to guide such a project in all of the key areas, including how the news is reported and by who for whom, as well as the all-important revenue model to make it feasible. Without giving away the whole story, let me just say the group came up with an approach they believe will net out as follows:

"The net result for advertisers is that they should get more efficient targeting and greater reach and the ability to buy easily (not one site at a time).
"The net result for citizen journalists is that they are enabled and supported.
"The net result for news organizations? Let's hope this can help support news-gathering and expand reporting as never before... and save the business.
"I'm not saying this is the only way to proceed or that it is realistic or profitable. But I was glad to finally hear some effort to move past lamenting the passing of the past and instead embrace the possibilities of the future.
"Here's an obnoxious way to put it: Instead of being the gatekeepers of news (controlling it), we become the enablers of news."

I don't think that's an obnoxious way of putting it; it's a succinct statement of the essential ingredients of a news future that takes the best of both worlds and puts them to work empowering readers, journalists and the folks on the business side.

That's a good future. Go read the whole post.