WWW2010: The Future of News Media

Notes from THE FUTURE OF THE MEDIA AND THE WEB, organized by PAUL JONES, leader of ibiblio.org and a local co-chair of the WWW2010 conference; panelists include DOC SEARLS, DAN CONOVER,MICHAEL CLEMENTE, PENNY ABERNATHY, SAM MATHENY

From L-R:

  • Paul Jones @smalljones : moderator, UNC
  • Dan Conover @xarker : worked for smaller papers; left newspaper industry in 2008 on a buyout – freelancer and consultant. Interest – semantic information in news, hold a minority position on new theory of the press re data
  • Michael Clemente : radio moved into TV at ABC (World News Tonight, 20-20, Good Morning America, ABCNewsNow) now FOX oversee news (not opinion) on TV, web, mobile
  • Penny Muse : NYT, WSJ – jrl and biz exec – since mid-90s transition of publishing to Net; this decade work on creative destruction (Yale – paper – lessons that media companies could learn about creative destruction). By most estimates, 45% of the news that appears on the web today originated with “newspapers” (AP, Reuters?)
  • Doc Searls @dsearls : jrl – newspapers in NJ, then radios in NJ, NC. Pretty much everything I’m known for I’ve done since I was 50 and it’s on the web
  • Sam Matheny : started as TV news producer and now focusing on mobile — “is this more convenient for me”?

Q: Most everyone here has been nimble (take off and put on several different hats). What do you think the next hats are? Where are leaders? Should it be Silicon Valley? [Music, Phones — answer was yes]

  • Doc. It’s interesting that the company you referenced was Apple. And Apple will succeed in the short run by reintroducing the scarcity model. “I didn’t start hearing about content until the container industry” started talking/hurting. Worldwide 4.x billion cellphones – far more more of them than computers. It is inevitable that Hollywood would call people sharing music “pirates.” The sellers won’t be in charge of the next system.
  • Sam. I agree on the mobile front. 4-5-6 years out there’s ample research to show that the mobile web will outpace the traditional web. Gartner predicts tip in 2013. It’s part of our 2020 vision plan. We believe that mobile will be bigger because of the ability to take it with you wherever you go. You’re not just browsing but you have ability to convert into phone call or easily share. You can’t launch an iPhone app without seeing a “how would you like to share” this article. Before the iPhone, what was the #1 selling handset? It was the Motorola Razor – slim, sleek, small, chic – call quality. iPhone -> the phone is an after-thought. “I’ll tolerate a crappy call …” Data is 25% of Verizon Wireless revenue.
  • Penny : if you look at a country like India you see technology leap-frogging. I think you need to look at it by generation. GenY and GenX have very different consumption pattern. We are sitting in a very wired community. Right down the road — web use up but cellphone use is still voice not data. Paul -> once you go into eastern NC was Droid because Verizon has coverage.
  • Michael – I’m encouraged that more people have access to information than ever before but I think that there’s an incorrect impression that people are better informed. Pace (every minute is a new deadline) has contributed to this.
  • Dan : lament about revenue. Original question -> who is going to lead? It’s NOT going to be the newspaper industry.
  • Penny : revenue side 1/20th of existing model — as much as 50% is dedicated to preserving a 200-year-old printing and distribution system
  • Sam -> what’s going on in Seattle?
  • Dan -> no metro area yet has NO newspaper
  • Michael -> we’re publishing online and the overwhelming majority of people on FOXNews.com are /reading/ stuff
  • Doc -> I think if you take the sum total of news coverage it’s more than we’ve had before. Our house almost burned down 2x. Most of the “news” came from people using blogs and Twitter – radio/newspaper/TV was dependent not independent variable. I don’t know who is going to pay for it, though.

Paul -> new directions? one of the big topics – data-mining. J-schools have said “all of our students will learn Flash” (I feel sorry for that people). I’d like to throw out directions: datavis, data mining, storytelling, crowdsourcing/citizen journalism. Add/evaluate

  • Dan -> we organize info at the object level not at the data level. when you organize it at the data level you can organize values and variables. it allows you to create ontology of our info, ontology of the jrl we are trying to commit. I propose that the value will be contained within the structure that we give info rather than the info itself.
  • Michael -> we end up aggregating story coverage – we did this over 4-5 days on NASA/Shuttle. Info where there is engagement – I still don’t know which stories people will engage with. Calculator – plug in your income and it tells you your share of something $$ in DC. We don’t have info until people plug something in.
  • Penny -> citizen jrl and value. One of the first comments on how role of jrl is changing – tsunami – he realized his job had changed and the job was verifying credibility of video. Reuters was founded sending carrier pigeons with stock market info across the channel. There are still other impt things that happen. I don’t think CJ will save us — context. It’s more important than ever that you be able to provide context.
  • Sam -> FTC gave an analysis of Ann Taylor – prizes to people who posted positive feedback on an event they were having. You start to see ways that savvy companies might manipulate what is flying under the guise of citizen journalism.

Paul -> let me try again. We are swamped in data. Will jrl lead in interpretting that data?

  • Doc -> and logic versus or logic. This is “and” logic. So how will jrl attack large data problems?
  • Sam -> anecdote – key challenge will be providing time for deep dive work
  • Michael -> curators; “most docs will say don’t go to the web because info is so muddled” — really???
  • Dan -> the question of “what is good” … not to get too Persig … I don’t know the answer. sometimes I think we are making society sicker. I think “what’s good” is what gets attention but that does not necessarily mean you are getting quality information. I don’t think we have effectively done that

Q: chatter about iPhone/iPad getting “goods” out and handing keys to a company that has a history of gatekeeping

  • Doc -> Apple iPhone — we’re working this stuff out. Apple can’t be a gatekeeper forever. We’re trying to figure out what the new ecosystem is
  • Sam -> The way Apple has expressed censorship is thru their store. They aren’t saying your Safari can’t go where you want — but they are saying they aren’t going to sell adult products in their store
  • Dan -> gadget neutral – can we sell stuff “exclusively”? I think something like that is very likely to happen.

Q: Wayne ->

  • Doc -> NewsRiver — nytimes.newsriver.com

Q: funding public interest journalism

  • Dan -> local weekly – you’re ok; international, you’re ok; metro area – hosed. I don’t know how this gets resolved. What size of foundation would you need – giganormous. Can metro markets support news coverage. We’ve lost 30% of news room staffs across the country; bloodbath. What’s left is demoralized and simply trying to not get fired.
  • Penny -> you’re also hosed if you live in eastern NC – for the foreseeable future

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