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May 01, 2008

The Future of Journalism

Hauser I’m at a very lively conference probing the future of journalism and technology, at the headquarters of Yahoo! in Sunnyvale, California, NewsTools 2008. The talk here has been of democracy and widgets, citizen journalism and Twittr, sputtering newspapers and algorithms. At a very popular discussion group the question was: “Who’s gonna pay the journalists?” An excellent question. Everyone wants to know what is the business model that will allow journalism – a core element of a democracy – to continue. (Note to six months ago: who’da thunk The New York Times Sunday circulation would drop 9 percent in that time? And the daily 5%? LA Times daily down 5%? Read it and weep.) Here are a few comments and concerns from the people thinking about journalism that matters, and how to recreate the environments for it to thrive: “We are living in fractured world. Journalism is a process, not product. We don’t need to float journalism organizations, we need to float journalists.” Or: “We can’t expect large national organizations to coalesce until we figure out the model.” “Remove the journalist as filter – let people tell their own stories, in their own voices. That allows the community to say, ‘what do I want to know from this person?" Pictured above is Eduardo Hauser, founder of the DailyMe.com, a website that is about to launch in earnest that will allow readers to create their own news experiences by choosing subjects, writers, predilections, among some 2,000 sources. He even pays those sources to license their material. The talk here is about sharing technology and content, engaging citizens, and what software lets you do that. The focus is on everything from covering niche subjects, investigative work, foreign freelancing networks, and local news. From the sound of things, journalism has a future; these are some of the people seizing the opportunities to find it. Thanks to the folks at Yahoo for hosting, and to the folks from University of Massachusetts' MediaGiraffe Project for organizing.