Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable « Clay Shirky

by Mar 16, 2009Books, Culture0 comments

What’s going to happen now that the internet has blown the old financial model which kept newspapers afloat for so long? An interesting essay by Clay Shirky suggests what I, too, think is the right answer:

I don’t know. Nobody knows. We’re collectively living through 1500, when it’s easier to see what’s broken than what will replace it. The internet turns 40 this fall. Access by the general public is less than half that age…. We just got here. Even the revolutionaries can’t predict what will happen.

But with the death of newspapers comes the death of a Kabul bureau, the death of so much important news—right? No, says Shirky. And here’s where he helped me:

Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.

It will be interesting to see what will happen.

HT: Alan Jacobs

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