The dawn of News 2.0

At the Museum of Television & Radio Media Center’s confab among mogulmen and bloggers, CBS News President Andrew Heyward stunned the listening when he said that news has to change in fundamental, once-heretical ways. I called it then “a big moment, reflecting a cultural change in meanstream news.” Jay Rosen was wise enough to go get Andrew to repeat himself and expand on it and he got others to react. Heyward’s three new laws of news:

One: Truth is a Plural

We have to abandon any claim to omniscience….

This means not just recognizing that on most matters there are multiple points of view out there as opposed to a single, discoverable “truth,” but also — and this is just as important — acknowledging that the world is a complicated place, and the stories and issues we cover are not always reducible to simple, television-friendly explanations.

However, that cannot be an excuse for us to shrug our shoulders and abdicate our core responsibility to strive for the highest standards of accuracy, fairness, and thoroughness. …

Two: Yes to Point-of-View Journalism

We have to figure out a way to incorporate point of view, even while protecting the notion of fair-minded journalism dedicated to accurate reporting without fear or favor. …

Three: News Has an Authenticity Problem

We have to break down the tired formulas of television news and find a more authentic way of writing, speaking, and interacting with the people and subjects we report on.

Here’s hoping that the management and culture of CBS allow Heyward to start enforcing his laws.

  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    It seems like the right has managed to discredit the entire concept of professional news organizations. The fact that you keep posting discussions about this from industry insiders is evidence.

    No one ever held newspapers to be all-knowing during their heyday which is why many were affiliated with various parties or interest groups.

    TV news is no different. The public has just realized that the news programs are part of an industrial enterprise with its own priorities.

    At the risk of repeating myself (again), please, someone, tell me how the blogosphere or freelancers are going to have the resources to match those of professional news organizations.
    With newsroom cutbacks they do little enough as it is.
    Back to the editor owning the printing press, I say!

  • Toni

    >At the risk of repeating myself (again), please, someone, tell me how the blogosphere or freelancers are going to have the resources to match those of professional news organizations.

    Don’t hold your breath.

  • Doug Gregory

    >

    Correctomundo. No one ever did. The newspapers themselves did. The media culture of pompous pretention is astounding to me. You can see it all over. Need I bring up the new Clooney film on ER Murrow?

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Robert, I’d like to take a shot at answering your question.

    The blogiverse looks to me a bit like the Wild West at the moment, filled with lots of saloons and lone guns, all hoping to carve out a niche for themselves by earning a reputation for being honest, clever, and keeping people interested in what they have to say since these are some of the things that appeal to the majority of the audience. They are new small businesses generating very little revenue (as new small businesses do) and competing in markets dominated by much larger and better known competitors with deep pockets.

    You know more about this than I do, but it seems to me that the first step is to build a good reputation and gain a following. The next is to somehow make it pay without compromising your integrity, i.e. selling out to the Man. If you can prove so many people regularly read your material, you can strike advertising deals (better than Google will offer you) to help turn your blog into a going concern. You can also obtain consulting gigs. You can plow the money you make back into your blog, get yourself better equipment, hire some extra talent. Now you’ve got a weekly podcast that people like, maybe a Video short once a week that people look forward to seeing. If you’ve got talent, no matter what it’s for, distribution is not a problem anymore. Perhaps you can attract investment if you’ve got a good enough idea that will regularly bring thousands of paying customers onto your site.

    Like any business, it grows slowly. What you say is true; most blogs do not have the resources today’s majors in news and entertainment do. But that’s going to change. There’re going to be lots of independent networks of people making money here, maybe a credible news organization or two we haven’t heard of yet. Bloomberg after all, couldn’t compete with the likes of Reuters when they started out, were in fact actively kept out of the ‘loop’ by the news establishment when they first started up (as is to be expected when a newcomer appears and challenges the status quo), but eventually they oversame the obstacles and built a successful worldwide news organization.

    You don’t need $10 million to have a fearless and talented blogger in Iraq act as your on-the-scene reporter, equipped with a decent videocam and curiosity. Same goes for anywhere else in the world. It looks like the new model is a cooperative one where people associate themselves with you because they agree with and believe in whatever it is you are trying to do. If you’ve got that, the resources will follow.

  • twoconcepts

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  • twoconcepts

    Sorry about that.

    I just posted this cooment on cbsnews.com’s Public Eye blog after they really confronted Mike Wallace on a bigtiem conflict of interest. I think your postion of perpetual “I’ll belive it when I see it”ism is growign adolescent. See:

    OK, I’m impressed.

    Compared to Mike Wallace, Judy Miller is a no-name mouse. Taking him on takes guts and deserves credit. And frankly the credit goes to CBS, not really to Public Eye and V-squared.

    I cans ee from the comments though the you’ll get no credit from the right-wing blogosphere. They’re going to pretend you don’t exist because the need liberal bias to be a perpetual enemy. It’s now a pillar of faith: in this evil we do believe…

    And, dude, here’s the really, really bad news. The liberal are non-ideolgical blosgosphere will give you even LESS credit — because you are a threat to their sanctimony. Now that Public Eye is getting tough with credibility on CBS, where does that leave the blogger priests. You think your pals liek Rosen or Jarvis or going to acknowledge Public v. Wallace? Dream on, now ay, ain’t going to happen? You think Kausfiles or Schafer at Slate or Daily Kos or Romenesky will say something nice? Uh, no.

    But some of us who like reporting more than opining really appreciate that a real newsgathering organization would do something like this. Job well done.

    I like your blog too perpetual petulance gets, well, perpetual.

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  • http://silkcharm.blogspot.com Laurel Papworth

    At the risk of repeating myself (again), please, someone, tell me how the blogosphere or freelancers are going to have the resources to match those of professional news organizations.
    The resources are freely available in blogs and online communities. I can read about the disappearance of a missing kid from the families website, or I can read about the war in Iraq at Riverbend’s blog. I can read and discuss company press releases and senate reports to my heart’s content.

    Tagging and rankings let me find and rate information. I become my own editor, collating the content I want to read. If I’m passionate about the subject well, I AM the subject matter expert. If I don’t care that much, just regurgitate a sentence or two from some who does care for me, will ya?

    So, let’s spin your question around – just what does a news organisation do that a blogger can’t? Research subject matter? Interview the man-on-the-street? Re-word press releases? Bloggers can do all that – and often their contacts are better!

    The key advantage a news corporation had was being able to aggregate content to appeal to the majority of readers. Now we are looking at targeted information to small swarms. Change or die.

    Oh yeah. And bloggers do it for free. Don’t ask me why, we just do. People like to create stuff (user generated content). Then they like to show the stuff they created to other people and say “hey! what do you think?” Then they decide to create more stuff. At some stage they might say “gosh I wish I could give up my day job and do this permanently” but that thought is not a given. And don’t forget, there’s always someone willing to do it for free. Good luck with finding a way of using that. No wonder Google’s mantra is “Don’t Be Evil”.