Mark Glaser attempts to start a memegame getting us all to make comparisons between the way the news business was and will be. I’ll argue that we’re in the present tense in some cases. He includes one of mine and asks for more. Play along. Here’s Glaser’s start (with my notes in itals)…
The way it is: Editors assign stories to reporters.
The way it will be: The community helps with story generation through special online forums, blogs and other interactive mechanisms.
The way almost it is: See NewAssignment.net and Chris Anderson’s efforts to transparently edit Wired.
The way is: Editors choose which letters to print in the Letters to the Editor section.
The way it will be: An online forum allows all letters to be posted in full.
The way it almost is: See the Economist’s new effort to put up all letters for all to see and Anderson’s plan, again, to have the public vote on which letters to publish. I’ll argue, though, that the letter to the editor is an outmoded form. Who wants to speak to editors? We want to speak to the audience. Replace the letter to the editor with the letter to the public.
The way it is: A story runs in the newspaper and is posted online on the newspaper website. Perhaps another day, the reporter files a follow-up story.
The way it will be: The story runs in the newspaper and is posted online, and then is constantly updated by editors, the reporter and the readers in the community.
The way it almost is: The Guardian and other papers start publishing stories that were destined for print online. That opens the door to corrections and improvements from the public. We’re not seeing a lot of that yet. But we will.
The way it is: Newspapers are printed and delivered to homes and businesses.
The way it will be: Newspaper content is beamed to special reader devices that are lightweight, flexible and use low power.
Not the way it is: I’m not a member of the epaper, eink cult. I already have a lightweight device: my phone. There will be others. But I think it’s a mistake to try to replictate the form of the newspaper in another gadget. That has almost been newspapers’ downfall online — replication. Instead, we need innovation. Who cares about the gadget. Get me the news.
The way it is: Breaking news happens in a community, and a reporter is sent to the scene.
The way it will be: Breaking news happens, and the editors and reporter scour the neighborhood for people on-the-scene who might have taken photos, videos or can write up a citizen reports on what happened.
The way it is: We consider paid reporters and editors to be professional journalists and everyone else is an amateur with questionable skills.
The way it will be: We consider everyone to be potential journalists, and there are shades of gray between who is a pro and who is an amateur.
The way it is: Newspapers try to cover all the news themselves.
The way it will be: “Cover what you do best. Link to the rest.” — Jeff Jarvis
So what else?
The way it is: Newspapers are all things to all people.
The way it will be: Newspapers do what they do best, which is usually local (see above).
The way it is: Newspapers are products.
The way it will be: newspapers are networks.
The way it is: Newspapers have deadlines and editions.
The way it will be: Newspapers are never done. (See NPR’s effort to start the show that’s never over.)
The way it is: Newsrooms are temples (with reporters and editors as a priesthood holding onto what they think are unique skills).
The way it will be: Newsrooms are classrooms (where it is in their interest to improve the journalism done in their larger networks).
The way it is: Newsrooms
The way it will be: Cars