Get a weblog, Mr. Powell

Get a weblog, Mr. Powell
: FCC Chair Michael Powell talks with OJR’s Staci Kramer and frets about the Internet and editing:

Newspapers, I think, serve a very valuable function as editors. What they do for us is not just spew out raw news to us. What we hope they do is help us figure out what’s really important. Is it on 1A above the fold? The editorial process sends all kinds of signals to the reader about at least that editor’s view. Stories get killed because they’re not factually sound or stories get run even though they’re controversial and bring down government officials.

That function to me is a pretty important one and — while I love the Internet and I think it’s going to be one of the most spectacular things in empowering consumers — there can be a point where that’s also worrisome.

Where are the filters? If I say something nasty about you, I make up some story — you were in here and you pulled out a bourbon bottle — that story can be around the world in seconds.

Yes, newspapers do provide that valuable service.

So will the audience. So will weblogs.

: Mr. Powell, you need to spend a few hours reading weblogs to see how editing and fact-checking work in the audience’s hands. They work quite well, thank you.

You are roasting an old chestnut, sir. True, back in the days of home pages and Usenet (lo, five years ago), things went unchallenged and unchecked. But thanks to the power and immediacy of weblogs — which bring publishing to the hands of anyone — and thanks to the power of links and the tools that let you find them (such as Technorati), lies, bias, and mistakes are quickly exposed.

The Internet doesn’t need editors, Mr. Powell. The Internet is the editor.

: Let’s put that one is brass and say it one more time: The Internet doesn’t need editors. The Internet is the editor.