“Thinking the Unthinkable”

41XcZVwR4iL._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-big,TopRight,35,-73_OU01_SS75_Clay Shirky is a highly regarded thinker on technology and the media (and the author of “Here Comes Everybody”). Please read his essay, “Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable,” for class Thursday/Monday, in addition to reading chapters 8 and 9 in “Coaching Writers.”

Shirky argues that we are living through a revolution unlike that seen since the invention and spread of the printing press in the 1500s. He makes some provocative points. Do you feel like we are living through revolution? Choose one or two of these excerpts to respond to, or select a different passage that made you think:

1. That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place. The importance of any given experiment isn’t apparent at the moment it appears; big changes stall, small changes spread.

2. When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.

3. We’re collectively living through 1500, when it’s easier to see what’s broken than what will replace it. The internet turns 40 this fall. Access by the general public is less than half that age. Web use, as a normal part of life for a majority of the developed world, is less than half that age. We just got here. Even the revolutionaries can’t predict what will happen.

4. Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.

5. When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society,’ the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.

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37 responses to ““Thinking the Unthinkable”

  1. I agree with this excerpt from Clay Shirky’s essay, “Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable.” We do live in a time when “it’s easier to see what’s broken than what will replace it.” But I also believe newspaper is not the only medium in danger. It’s the future of print media in general that society should be scared for.

    Right now, we know that print is in trouble. People are losing jobs, and newspapers and magazines are going under. What print is struggling to do now is find a way to use the Internet to their advantage. What I find disturbing about this is that though some of these methods are working, the Internet is constantly growing and changing. I think it’s naïve to say that Facebook or Twitter are going to save print media because most likely, they will die to. Just yesterday my freelance writing class was introduced to Google Wave, which is supposedly the “next big thing” in social media. Facebook and Twitter could suffer the same fate as MySpace before long.

    How can we begin to predict the future of print media in regards to the Internet when we can’t even predict what the Internet is going to be like a few years from now? I think print media are smart to take advantage of what the Internet has to offer now, but eventually there will come a time when big changes will have to be made, whatever they may be.

    • The only thing print media can do right now to survive is to latch on to the multimedia realm. To not do so is literally social suicide for print in general. You’ve gotta keep your audience interested, and if your readers want videos linked online–you’ve gotta give it to them. Otherwise you will lose them to the “next big thing,” as Emily mentioned. It’s always a struggle to survive but the best can make it happen. I’m definitely rooting for my print magazines. =)

    • I largely agree with Emily. I think that the Internet will continue to rapidly change and that all print media is at risk. However, what journalists need to do is find out a way to make a profit out of online journalism. It’s tricky, and if one site charges for it you can often find another site that doesn’t. But if we can’t make a decent profit from online journalism, whether it comes from advertising or our readers, then there’s going to be a lot of trouble in the near future of the journalism industry.

  2. I agree with Shirkey’s statement that,”When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society,’ the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.” You can see this everywhere–not just in the media industry. The internet and multimedia journalism is an obvious example of this. You can get your news emailed to you, look it up online at any instant, watch live video feeds, you know it. What used to work now, “next day journalism” doesn’t cut it in 2009. We want to see what is happening right now across the globe…so on and so forth. Another case of this is the evolution of communication. It used to be sufficient to have a house phone and no other phones, but today nearly everyone I know has their cell phone within arm’s reach of them at all times (which most likely also has internet and email capabilities).

    Like Emily mentioned above, the print industry is not “working” for society anymore. A printed issue that is released once a month, or once a week isn’t quenching societies thirst for constant and up-to-date information. We need all the other features: Facebook, Twitter, ect. to keep us in tune with the world around us at all times. And, even these institutions cannot be guaranteed to last much longer. We’ve gotta be constantly looking for and finding what will work for society in the next 5, 10, 50 years. If you get caught up in the past, you can almost guarantee you will be left behind.

    Conveniently, what many colleges, such as Drake, are doing is preparing journalists to be “flexible” with the expected and unexpected changes to come. You can’t just be the “print magazine girl” anymore. You’ve gotta be able to upload photos on a website, insert links, record video and audio… you NEED to be the “I can do anything with media girl,” in order to be successful in the new age of journalism.

    • I agree with you that Drake is doing a really good job trying to keep us as up to speed as possible with the changes that are going on in the industry. Sometimes it does feel like social media is kind of being stuffed down our throats, but I think it’s important that we listen. If we want to get hired, we need to know how to use these things. I have heard a few success stories about people getting jobs from places like Twitter, and I’m a believer now. We just need to know how to use these sites to our advantage.

    • Clara’s post got me thinking about some of the positive times ahead for journalism. I think writers are frustrated now because they spend so much time fiddling with the nuances of the internet and computer technology that it can detract from the time they get to spend learning, absorbing and reporting information.

      But, I think that as we become acclimated to the different ways we can use technology, it will enhance journalism. Audio-visual learners will no longer have to read large bodies of text that aren’t conducive to their learning style. They can get their news from videos and slide shows as well. (Exhibit A: podcasts)

      To be a journalist today, you must be dedicated to true communication, not just writing. The profession is not defined by the same attributes it once was- it calls for different ambitions and skills.

  3. 5. When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society,’ the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.

    This is the excerpt that caught my attention the most. I don’t think newspapers are going to be around forever. It is so easy to get news online, and it is instantly updated, so its more convenient than sitting down and reading the newspaper. I think magazines are more likely to last longer because they have niche markets and people are more likely to be loyal to their magazines.

    Everything is gravitating towards the web now, and it is practically impossible to find a magazine or newspaper without an online presence. Whats working for society today is the instant gratification that the internet can bring. We live in a society that is extremely fast paced, and the internet can keep up with us, for now, but newspapers and print magazines are starting to take some heat and lose business because of this.

    • I go to the web for my news because of how fast I can get it. Instead of paging through a newspaper, I can quick look online between classes. I think what I like best is that I can pick the news I want to read about. That’s also kind of scary though. Sometimes I wonder what I am missing because I can tailor my news to cater to my interests.

      • Whitley Kemble

        Definitely. Um…Google Reader? Best thing that’s happened to me in a long time. It’s a heck of a lot easier to type in a few keywords and read what I want. What’s better is the fact that I get information from all over, and it’s so easy to get the most recent. Beats having to scan a million pages for just a few articles that will actually help me. I love having things in print, but the web is sooooo much more convenient it’s ridiculous.

      • hollycatherine

        This is in response to Whitley’s comment. While Google Reader definitely isn’t the New York Times, I’d definitely have to agree with you in that it’s just so much more convenient. I find myself now wanting to check that instead of actually picking up a newspaper, which I feel like is a sign that our generation is the one living through this print to online revolution–as we were growing up, more and more newspapers and magazines were developing places on the web for their online content, so we’ve grown into this change, and aren’t necessarily as opposed to it as perhaps a journalist who made their career 30 years ago would be.

    • What do you think is different about magazines that makes them more likely to survive?

      There is such a wide variety of special features on the web that I am not so sure magazines will survive much longer either.

      • Unlike newspapers, magazines have never been reliant on classified advertising, which has migrated to craigslist. Magazines with a niche will still be attractive to a certain body of advertisers. Niche mags are faring better than broad-interest titles such as Newsweek and Time.

        When the economy rebounds, those ad dollars will probably return to niche magazines. But classified ad revenue will never return to newspapers.

        The Big Question: Why didn’t newspapers see craigslist coming?

  4. I really Shirky’s fourth and fifth points. It doesn’t matter if good journalism gets to the public through newspapers or or the web, just as long as it gets to the public somehow. The public still need their news. They just need it in a faster more to-the-point way.

    In an ever-changing society, we have grown to love new technology. And our institutions must adapt to this new technology. We have to go where our audience is going. And that happens to be online. Print just isn’t the medium anymore. We must make a swift transition from writing for print to writing for the web or we won’t make it.

    • Can you even begin to imagine what life would be like if we never changed anything? Without the industrial revolution we might never have figured out internal combustion, mass production (factory production was much more efficient), or modern capitalism. Okay, so maybe that last one’s a bit extreme, but the revolution definitely sped up the process. Can you imagine how long westward expansion would’ve taken without the railroad? From clothing to cars to the telephone, much of what we enjoy today was a result of that big change. I say revolution’s a good thing, especially in this case.

    • Lindsay brings up a good point: that we have to follow the audience. We are here to serve readers. We can’t force the public to keep reading newspapers if it is no longer the most practical way for them to receive the information. Ultimately, they choose how they get the information. As professionals, we just have to hope we’re getting them the correct information.

  5. When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society,’ the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.

    Whether this is a revolution or not, it is clear that things are changing, and changing rapidly, too. I can remember a time when I actually had to go to the library to do research, print tangible copies of assignments for my teachers, and take film to the drug store to get prints. Even mailing a letter used to take days.

    Now I can scan, copy, upload, and attach as many of these documents as I want. This is what’s so beautiful about this revolution—it brings information to the masses with the click of a button. People all over the world are making use of the tools they’ve been given to communicate a multitude of ideas, concepts, and beliefs with each other.

    When Shirky writes about the shift away from newspapers, he makes a valid point. By looking at the issue from a much broader standpoint, it makes this so-called revolution a very exciting thing. Sure, it’s going to be difficult to figure out how to keep journalists on the payroll, but it’s given writers and reporters all sorts of new opportunities. Like he said, what works today isn’t the same as what used to work. Why not embrace it?

    Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got just as many worries about this as the next journalism student. It’s been a little nerve-racking knowing that the very field I’ve spent the last three years studying and training for may not exist ten years down the road. As more publications move to the web, there’s less and less certainty about whether these publications will ever hit the printing press at all.

    Three years ago I had no idea what a blog was. Now I write blogs freelance. Almost every newspaper, magazine and news station has its own website. Almost all of these sites have helped boost readership of the original publication. When they haven’t, they still make a huge impact on the publication’s organization.

    Not everyone has survived the shift, but there are plenty of success stories. Why? Because these publications have figured out that if they adapt to fit the needs of the reader, they’ve got a better shot at surviving. Readers are also consumers, and consumers need stuff. Stuff sold by companies who are still desperately trying to reach a specified target market. Old methods are failing, so they’ve got to try something new. Something like the web.

    Publications have a well-defined reader, many with very specific interests. Readers visiting specialty sites for print media such as Diabetic Living or Runner’s World fit the same profile of the market advertisers target.

    Perhaps what’s revolutionary in this case is that—despite all former unpleasantry—editorial and advertising are finally learning to embrace each other. Writers can still do what they’ve always strived to do by providing fresh, quality content to their readers, while advertisers can introduce products and services that can enhance their lives.

    The advertiser helps the writer, and they both help the consumer. Like Shirky said, people don’t need a newspaper. Or a magazine. Or a newscast. What they need is journalism, however it looks.

    • Vanezza Van Buskirk

      I agree. Many times people ask me, “Well, aren’t you worriedas a journalist?” Yes and no. It can make you feel a bit uneasy, but things are changing.

      There are better ways to do things now than before. We must embrace the changes since the old methods are failing. Trying the new methods and the new ways, like the web, has been pretty successful so far.

  6. Speaking of revolution, this was my favorite Shirky quote:

    “When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution.”

    I like how he talked about the need to study the transition period, not just the ‘before and after’ of a revolution. We’re going through a revolution right now–print to digital–and all the debate can be painful and confusing. We’re struggling to figure it out, no doubt.

    But the ‘after’ is going to be awesome. Probably.

    • I agree with Riane that the ‘after’ is something definitely to look forward to. What is to come is something exciting and new. Yes, it is difficult for me to say this, as stuck in the past as I am…but common we’re evolving. Yeah I’m struggling, but we all are.

    • I LOVE how you put that. How we are in a transition period of the revolution. That makes me feel better for not catching on as quickly sometimes. We’re still in the revolution, so I have time.

  7. It’s an important reality that people today are far less likely to pay for news because of the vast resource that is the internet, but that does not mean journalism will die along with the existing financial structure of the media industry.

    Newspaper people are scared of life after newspapers, but their fear is quickly becoming a reality. In my opinion the newspaper giants such as the New York Times and the Washington Post will always survive, but largely as a novelty item. These papers will fulfill the public’s desire for a physical copy of the news when a huge story breaks, but that’s about it.

    Many newspaper people struggle to accept that they may or may not be instrumental to the distribution of news five or ten years from now. As a result many of these same individuals are adopting elitist attitudes regarding the distribution of news media.

    I think Shirky’s makes a strong point about the importance of journalism rather than newspapers. Confining legitimate journalism to the pages of the local daily is a mistake. As long as somebody is doing their homework and writing about it in a responsible manor, society will get its news and continue to be informed. It is up to the newspapers to drop the elitism and accept that they will have to compete with a wider range of journalists in order to survive in the coming years.

    • I understand where Jeff is coming from. It seems that it shouldn’t matter how we’re getting the news, as long as we don’t let quality deteriorate. I think the fear, though, is that there will be no hierarchy or means of distinguishing between websites that have either fabricated, embellished, or stolen news and those that actually break the story first. Will the New York Times and Wall Street Journal still be at the top?

      That could be a good or bad thing, I guess. Maybe it would be good to give other newspapers or sources of quality journalism a chance in the spotlight. But, making that leap of faith is asking a lot of the group of citizens dedicated to being informed by “the best,” reading only the news that’s “fit to print.”

      (That reminds me of another interesting thought: Do you think the New York Times should change its motto from “All the news that’s fit to print” if someday it is no longer actually printing? Would changing it now make a statement that they’re embracing the times?)

  8. Vanezza Van Buskirk

    I agree with Shirky’s quote, “When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society,’ the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.”

    It’s apparent how true it is. Today print as evolved into more online. News is generated on the web much faster than it can be created in print. This is what works TODAY.

    It’s funny how “save newspapers” to “save society” caught my eye. I remember months ago one of my friends on Facebook (who worked for the DSM Register) had me join a group/petition to “save the newspapers”. “Because that was what we had to do”, he said. Since he said that, I was felt to help preserve it.

    Afterwards it made me realize that things evolve. Sometimes better ways are figured out with how to do things, and we as human beings, many times, HATE/ARE VERY RESISTANT to change.

    Just because “we’ve done it this way ever since”…blah, blah, blah, doesn’t me we necessarily have to.

    • Reading Vanezza’s post somehow jump-started my brain on the notion of the environment. I now feel silly for not recognizing what a hypocrite I’ve become. I go to extreme lengths when it comes to recycling and cutting down on my personal consumption or non-reusable goods. Yet, I sit here trying to “save newspapers.” I often forget that is such a big component to the change we’re undergoing in the media industry. If we can find a way for people to get the quality information and somehow make a living off of it, why waste the paper? It’s just not necessary anymore. (Though I still don’t like reading off of a screen all of the time…)

  9. I have to say, some of the other articles and essays we’ve been reading lately have been making me a feel a little anxious about my career choice. This essay made me excited to be a part of the “revolution.”

    Similar to our discussion about the AP soldier photo, the central element here for me was the framing of the issue. Other pieces have made me feel like I’m falling behind, like the world as we know is going to bits and I’ve got no chance to keep up, and if I can’t express myself in 140 characters, then get outta the way for those who can. While Shirky’s message is very similar, he presents it in a way that pushed me to be excited about the revolutionary ideas I could be a part of.

    Newspapers are dying and it’s scary. True perhaps, but our generation of journalists will be the key figures in the stuff that comes next. Before I felt like I was trying the board the Good Ship Journalism as it was sinking, now I feel more like I get to help develop the new sort of winds filling the sails.

  10. I feel like I am living through a revolution and that people expect a lot out of myself and my generation. The Internet is taking over print journalism (although I think print will always have a place in the world-just a much much smaller place than it does now). Newspapers were great, Magazines were wonderful, and now we must hold on tight to the Internet in order to stay on top of the rapid changes associated with the web.

    Here’s a piece from the reading which I’d like to discuss (point No. 1):

    “That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place. The importance of any given experiment isn’t apparent at the moment it appears; big changes stall, small changes spread.”

    I both agree and disagree with this quote. I would ague that in this revolution that new things (the Internet, Twitter) are taking over the old (MySpace, newspapers) before the old has a chance to break. There is nothing wrong with newspapers or magazines. Sure, the revenue is declining as more and more people shift to online, but there is nothing wrong with either form of storytelling-really. The revolution we are in, in the here and now, is-not quite an access, but an abundance of technology. Does anyone ever buy a laptop without knowing that in a year or two there will be something tremendously better on the market? Or what about iPods? We’d be fools to think that more and more models won’t come out as the years pass by. What we as journalists need to do now is identify the technology of today and then discover how to use that technology to our best advantage in finding out new stories, reporting fresh information and getting news out there as soon as possible. We must live with the technology of today so that when tomorrow comes we are prepared and ready to move on if Twitter is replaced or a better way of capturing video is discovered. We must adapt for now and prepare for changes to come-being the ones to first publicize new changes if at all possible.

    Things that seem like “big changes” are really just additions to past “big changes,” making them, in actuality, small. For example, Twitter is pretty similar to a status update on Facebook, and Google Wave is really just a lot of the social media sites we already know how to use, combined. Life may not exactly be that simple, but taking new technology and changes in the industry bit by bit help keep me sane. So-exhale. And, good luck.

    • Here’s proof that I need coffee:
      “The revolution we are in, in the here and now, is-not quite an access, but an abundance of technology. ”
      I meant excess, I apologize for any confusion.
      Now to Starbucks.

  11. I found this comment to make me think the most:
    2. When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.

    I’m definitely someone who likes to think print journalism won’t ever completely go away, but no one has ever turned that perspective around for me before like this passage did. This made me think for the first time actually that as the times change, we (and by we I mean as individuals and journalism as a whole) will change with it. No, there won’t always be newspapers, but eventually there will be something completely new that I’ll find just as awesome as print publications. It is inevitable for the times to change, so I might as well embrace it instead of argue against it.

  12. I really enjoyed reading this essay. Shirky was able to articulate the idea I’ve been seeking. It’s not that I’m scared of losing the newspaper or old means of communication, I’m scared of losing journalism- the democratic and knowledge-spreading entity I have become accustomed to thinking of as synonymous with news stories.

    With Shirky’s comment, “When we shift our attention from ‘save newspapers’ to ‘save society,’ the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works,'” I felt reassured. That sounds like progress, and I am usually in favor of progress.

    I think that this flexibility and progressive attitude has been the secret to the success of so many important historical movements. Often times you can’t work within the current system to achieve the change you’re seeking.

    I think this scares me as a student because I don’t like uncertainty. I like to know that I’m learning things the “right way.” But, as Shirky points out, there isn’t really a “right way” these days, but rather a period of experimentation. I feel like no matter how hard we try to become more social media-savvy it’s not going to really help in the long run.

    The good news is that it teaches us the skill of flexibility. Even though Twitter probably won’t be popular five years from now (maybe even one year from now), it teaches us to learn about new and unfamiliar forms of communication. The more exposure you have to different things that challenge your mindset, the more you train yourself to be flexible and accept change.

    I know I should be excited to be a part of this period of change, but, instead, I find myself frustrated that there is no “right way.” However, Shirky’s essay leaves me optimistic that we will find it some way or another and even helps me view journalism today as a healthy (and, conveniently, unavoidable) challenge. I can experiment and change things. Maybe that’s a nice way to avoid some of the things about “old journalism” that may have been problematic for me? Regardless of how prepared I feel, change is coming.

  13. Perhaps the most provocative point made in Shirky’s essay is the line “Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.” I have had many arguments with friends and family about the future of newspapers, and this statement boils down my argument perfectly.

    When the internet first hit, newspapers vastly (and I would argue arrogantly) underestimated its ability to replace them. Online newspapers were often second-rate, and were always free. If they had focused on premium, up to speed content right away, and more importantly charged for it, they would not be in the dire predicament they are now.

    Newspapers were stubborn to embrace the internet, and now it is swallowing them whole. However, the quality (and certainly not the quantity) of journalism hasn’t declined at all. In fact, many professional blogs like The Huffington Post have thrived in this new environment, and have produced quality journalism.

    Newspapers will always be the gold standard of journalism, but when a newspaper folds it’s not as if all of the fine journalists who staffed it will disappear into the ether. They will adapt to this brave new world of journalism, and bring their skills with them. A newspaper is only a physical thing, but what they represent already has, and will continue to have, a smooth transition into the digital age.

    • I really like this sentence: “Newspapers will always be the gold standard of journalism, but when a newspaper folds it’s not as if all of the fine journalists who staffed it will disappear into the ether.” This is true on so many levels. We didn’t really expect newspapers to dominate the journalism world forever, did we? Just years after Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, it was replaced by bigger and brighter bulbs. Journalists have to always be on the lookout for the next best thing. If these writers and reporters on a print staff are talented, they’ll adapt to online content. If they’re not, they will be replaced. Facts are facts; journalists know this better than anyone else. We just can’t “live a lie” any longer.

  14. On a Sunday night after a long week, I had a hard time focusing on this article until I got a punch in the face with this passage in his essay:

    “…people committed to saving newspapers demanding to know ‘If the old model is broken, what will work in its place?’ To which the answer is: Nothing. Nothing will work. There is no general model for newspapers to replace the one the internet just broke.”

    Provocative, but a very well-phrased question regarding thoughts that have been swirling around in my head. Rather, I think that’s the question everyone is quick to ask–whether they’re committed to saving newspapers or committed to letting journalism properly evolve.

    I’m a sucker for a good, finger-staining, and unwieldy read. For me, however, the jury is still out on whether the Internet broke it or will save it. I just don’t know.

    I’ll address a passage you asked for, now:
    “When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.”

    The conclusive sentence aside, which strikes me as a little strong–I don’t think people are consciously looking to evade the “truth”–I think Shirky makes a valid point that society is looking for a journalistic or media safety by searching for newspaper’s replacement. I think people like knowing that it’s there, that it exists, that it’s an option.
    “Core institutions” are important to me; I think it’s important to society as a whole. The core institutions of media are no exception. But do we demand a replacement because we refuse to acknowledge a revolution or because we crave that constant?

  15. Shirky brings up some eye-opening and enlightening points. His article left me with more of a positive outlook for the future of journalism. Instead of attesting that all journalists will soon lose their jobs and that the media will disappear as a trusted source of information, he writes with an opportunistic tone in this piece.

    He brings up a good point in the passage about shifting our attention from saving newspapers to saving society. Although many traditionalists cannot seem to let go of the massive movement to Web-journalism, if it’s what the public needs to get its news at the speed of the internet, then that is what we as journalists must adapt to.

    Shirky wrote, the internet is only 20 years old this fall and there are many changes in the years (months, even) ahead. This point in the journalistic revolution is a mess of projects, tests, failures, surveys and revisions. This stage is key in developing a successful new medium through which to reach our readers. It’ll take creativity and determination from the media as a whole.

  16. I have to say that I agree with the fourth statement up in the blog, that “society doesn’t need newspapers. It needs journalism.” From what I’ve been reading and learning in my classes this semester is that we’ve somehow gone from the hard-hitting news that everyone needs to go on to more “news-entertainment”. Possibly this happened due to newspapers not being creative enough to compete with the Internet, thereby leaving it up to the common person.

    While now there is some shift into finding news again, we’re still a long way off. For example, take the VMA’s Sunday night. When Kanye West did his little charade usurping Taylor Swift, that made the news! We’re still a long way off to save the journalism ways as we know it, and it may not be the same after this revolution. But we need to change the way people are understanding the news, and show them what we have now is nothing more than entertainment for the most part.

  17. 4. Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.

    This passage from Clay Shirky’s essay stood out to me the most when I read it. What everyone seems to be worried about these days is how we’re going to save newspapers. Well, the fact is, we’re probably not going to save newspapers. The internet has just taken such a strong root in our generation that it will be nearly impossible to direct our attention back to actually picking up an issue of the New York Times instead of looking up the breaking news stories that we want online.

    People concerned with this new revolution that our generation is living through should not be concerned with saving one medium of journalism (newspapers) but saving journalism altogether. We’re not trying to replace newspapers, but in the age of the internet, they have been set aside. The thing our generation’s journalists need to focus on is transitioning from the previous generation’s idea of journalism to what our generation and future generation’s ideas of it will be. With that, society doesn’t need newspapers, but they do need to be kept informed by good journalism, in any medium that it’s available in.

  18. The fifth quote really hit home for me.

    “When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society,’ the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.”

    I think that this quote sums up Shirky’s point in two concise sentences. Frankly, I’m sick of hearing about the imminent death of newspapers. It’s the future of journalism at ALL that we should be concerned about. As far as many news anchors, magazine and online editors are concerned, Ye Olde Newspaper is already dead. The “do whatever works” mentality to save the rest of journalism terrifies me, and I know I’m not alone. But in reality, it shouldn’t. I know that I’m just reluctant to let go of the familiar, as others are. The social revolution we’re caught in the midst of is basically just a bunch of contradictions. We’re about to learn techniques and tools for programs and software that will likely be obsolete when we graduate. Half of the information that was ingrained in our brains freshman year is already outdated. So essentially, we’re all learning to learn to think differently, fine-tune our brains to change. After all, there are fewer limitations since the revolution; and when you think about it, really, we don’t even know if we have anything to lose.

  19. Pingback: Bloggers now required to disclose free gifts: Checkers, Part II? « Print Media Editing / Drake University

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