The Messy Transition Ahead

Gillmor, Dan
December 2004
Nieman Reports;Winter2004, Vol. 58 Issue 4, p59
This article focuses on the transition of U.S. journalism from the 20th century model of centralized newsgathering and distribution to an emergent phenomenon of increasingly ubiquitous and interwoven networks. Technology has collided squarely with journalism, giving people at the edges of those networks low-cost and easy-to-use tools to create their own media, and the data networks are giving them global reach. Meanwhile, the business model of journalism is under attack as never before, by people using the same technologies to carve away revenues. The core of the issue is in fragmentation. The news audience seems to be going its own way. Certainly there is some retreat to quality not just surfing to random news sites that turn out to give false information. But there is equally a hunt for better information than we're getting from main stream media. Technology helped create this messy transition. It might help solve it. The tools of media creation and distribution are more powerful and ubiquitous. Now we need tools to better manage the flood of what results. Specialized search tools, such as Technorati and Feedster, are emerging to help us gather and sort good material from bad. They are still fairly crude in many ways, but they are improving quickly and help point to more useful systems.


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