Live-blogging Future of News panel

(This is my attempt at live-blogging the ONA panel on the future of news at the CBC in Toronto with Leonard Brody of NowPublic, Rahaf Harfoush — who did research for Don Tapscott’s book Wikinomics — and Andrew Keen, author of Cult of the Amateur. Note: I did this on a BlackBerry, so please excuse the typos)

Keen says citizen journalism sounds Orwellian, like a guy in a beret creeping around feeling very virtuous; doesn’t think journalists should necessarily be good citizens;

Brody says it’s a dumb term, like citizen dentist; says it is “the people’s view”; brand promiscuity; most younger readers don’t read just one thing, they search and read an average of 16 links on a story;

Rahaf (who is in her 20s) says she bought a newspaper a week ago — for her dad.

Keen says citizen journalism is part of a fetishization of the authentic, focus on the personal; cultural changes, has very little to do with media; take out your frustrations on something else — doctors or restaurants, don’t ruin media; big media has as much responsibility as anyone else; bowing to reality television and cult of celebrity;

Keen says big media should be less humble, more arrogant, more authoritative; saying we understand, you need a voice is … Recipe for disaster;

If you take that view, Brody says, you will be speaking to an empty room. It’s not good or bad, it just is.

Rahaf says having an arrogant journalist tell me what’s important, not interested in that; interested in a dialogue, and in individual voices.

Public view, human perspective and don’t trust single view — want to triangulate truth on my own Brody says; he says the vast majority of people don’t want to be paid; if they did it would be easier — love and ego are much harder to control;

Keen says when we generate something of value most of us want to be paid; not going to give away my labour for nothing; youtube model or wikipedia model, vessel they put their information into, bad in every way; one of the things that keep journalists honest is that they’re paid

Rahaf says that blogs have to develop a reputation, build up trust over time, effectively self-regulating; social contract

Brody says they want to be arbiters of their own truth;

Keen says no wisdom of crowds with Digg and Reddit — he sees new anonymous oligarchy with these sites; idealism of the Web 2.0 crowd, but reality is it’s an echo chamber, people becoming more and more ignorant;

Brody says moved away from the Long Tail to the nano-tail, the hyper-personal, Facebook feeds etc. Keen says that’s not news it’s just gossip;

Availability of different perspectives, Rahaf says, not trying to guide traditional media;

Keen says we can’t learn anything from children (after journalism students give their views of the future of journalism); says they are naieve and should probably get a job in a kitchen or something because they won’t have jobs — no one will pay them for their work.

Brody says he’s not that idealistic about it — it’s really just a technological split between breaking news and the analysis; newspapers like the New York Times are out of the breaking news business, but the need for analysis is still there;

Keen says hyper-local is the future, but Craig Newmark has ruined that business for traditional media, so taken away the ability to monetize local.

Rahaf says it’s about whether you care or don’t care — you could take away the Internet and put someone in a newsstand and if they don’t care about the news they will pick up a Cosmopolitan or whatever; doesn’t have that much to do with the Internet;

Brody says that the real potential of news is when you have GPS and you can see where people are and how close they are to a news event;

Keen says need to educate kids about the difference between a newspaper like the Times or the Guardian and blogs; teach them that some media sources have gatekeepers and are generally more reliable and some are not; media literacy is one of the things we need the most;

Questioner who is a media literacy educator, says she wonders whether kids are getting too used to reading about and paying attention only to others like them; they expect things to be highly tailored, and if it isn’t they’re not interested; what does that mean for them as citizens;

Brody says need to go back to what journalists were originally good at — pulling things together, aggregating and packaging, and presenting it; think that there will be an even greater hunger for that in the future;

Keen says he is actually optimistic about Web 2.0 tools because they can do a lot — if they are in the right hands; he says the new new thing will be expertise, now that people have realized that most of Web 2.0 is garbage.


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