Dead v. live

Dead v. live

: Adrian Holovaty tears down PDF publications (I agree) but what he’s really tearing down is paper:

A print-newspaper journalist tries to guess the dozen-or-so pieces of information that people might want to know, freezing the facts into a flat, unbendable package…. But a Web-savvy journalist tries to anticipate the hundreds of ways people will want to slice, dice and use information, and creates the infrastructure that makes it happen.

It’s the difference between a flat list of marriage licenses and a searchable database that lets me type in a person’s name and corrects common misspellings.

That’s what Web news is all about. A newspaperman deals in information dictation; a Web journalist deals in information discovery.

And a citizens’ journalist deals in….

  • Derek

    And a citizens’ journalist deals in….
    …feedback and conversation. The old saw that journalists should write to a sixth-grade level (and as a feature writer I can sat it’s not much of an exaggeration) is revealing. MSM assumes the denseness of it readership. CM assumes intelligence. A newspaper is a single voice, blaring into 300,000 ears. CM is a discussion forum that analyzes news and explore what demands exploring, ignores what doesn

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Derek: Right. The news judgment of the market.
    I just said to the Harvard confab where I am that blogs have a lot more discussion (some of it passionate) and debate and information about Social Security than MSM.

  • Derek

    To wit: on this blog and others that encourage comments I have responded forcefully and passionately, sure that I’m right about one thing or another. Then later another responder, one whose comments I might find vile in places, says something that I have to agree with—that makes me re-think a position. It makes you a better writer, reader and more well-informed, thoughtful citizen.
    Doesn’t always happen but the fact that it EVER does is a vast improvement over print or b-cast journalism—media that can often make people mad as hell, but without ever providing a method for venting or sharing ideas—for improving or refining the discussion. This is the utility of the blogosphere and it ain

  • http://www.drcookie.blogspot.com JennyD

    Another big mistake made by MSM is characterizing blogs as just a clamor of voices or a noisy, nasty argument. While some are, perhaps, most are gatherings of informed citizens. In some cases, the citizens are lots more informed than journalists, and so the conversation is quite demanding and revealing.
    Take a look at the Becker-Posner blog, a back and forth by two Nobel Laureates along with comments from the clamoring masses. There are lots and lots of experts who blog on their expertise, and provide an intelligent and stimulating look at everything from politics to cooking.
    Most journalists are experts in nothing except calling people on the phone, whittling down the information they get, and repackaging it into a flat, one-way format. If that’s all there is to the profession, then journalism is in trouble.

  • http://rexblog.com Rex Hammock

    Jeff. As you perhaps know, I have blogged myself silly on how dumb I think PDF “digital magazines” are. However, I don’t think “Paper” is the issue at all. I know it’s hard for you (and me) to separate the us vs. them in the context of the swirl of word slinging we’re in today as we try to explain to our print brethren that citizens media is a bigger deal than they’ll ever understand. And I agree with you (and have blogged it endlessly) there are print publications (and perhaps formats) that are dinasours and should have died decades ago. But as I’ve tried to say on my blog and earlier this week in an interview with the website, Media Life, this “print is dead” meme is misguided and the “citizens media vs. traditional media” debate misses the point.
    Magazines die. Newspapers die. Always have, always will. But the print magazine format serves lots more purposes that more than compensate for its inability to provide a platform for clickable hyperlinks. Paper is not dead (wait, actually, paper is dead, technically, I guess, but you know what I’m trying to mean).
    However, I agree with the linked observation: PDF digital magazines are something that make no sense to me.

  • Eileen

    Derek says: “To wit: on this blog and others that encourage comments I have responded forcefully and passionately, sure that I’m right about one thing or another. Then later another responder, one whose comments I might find vile in places, says something that I have to agree with—that makes me re-think a position. It makes you a better writer, reader and more well-informed, thoughtful citizen.”
    I couldn’t agree with you more. I have come to think of blogs and their commenters as ‘Massage Method/Message Media’ (MMM), where every detail or ‘fact’ is examined, every bias and opinion (v. fact) is exposed, and every voice in the spectrum is heard.
    There is no way traditional MSM can ever hope to compete in this new multidimensional medium…unless of course they decide to make love, not war, and incorporate our voices into their fold.

  • http://www.mythusmage.com/mythusmageopines Alan Kellogg

    Jeff,
    Are we talking about an open ended project (such as a blog) or a finished project? If open ended, then I agree with you. But from what I’ve read I would have to call the publication in question a finished project. As such PDF works just fine.
    Besides, have you see what PDF editors and distillers can do these days?
    In the RPG business most products released these days are in PDF. Most are bare bones, but a few have all sorts of neat toys included. A Whisper of Horses from Alea Publishing Group incorporates sound and video files into the document. A PDF document can approach the flexibility of a web page or blog.
    For a publication that receives constant updating I would not recommend PDF. For a publication that has discrete editions, then I would.

  • von

    The fact that I am sitting down here in Mississippi reading this blog speaks volumes. This is the major advantage of blogs. I don’t ever read the New York Times, and even if I did, I couldn’t chime in and express my opinion (ignorant or not), and have such an audience to either flame me, correct me, or agree with me…

  • Frank

    A journalist should deal in facts. Observable, verifiable, unvarnished facts. Once the facts are reported correctly, a jounalist can if so motivated add context and analysis.
    Facts First! Anything else after that.

  • Karen
  • Mark