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Media and New Media

Moderating a new media panel discussion at ConvergeSouth.

Moderating a new-media panel discussion with Chris Rabb and Ruby Sinreich at ConvergeSouth 2007. (Sue Polinksky photo)

The bulk of my writing about media and and new media can be found in these two categories at Xark, but my essentially defunct Conover on Media blog contains some original pieces that either pre-dated Xark or seemed too arcane for its efforts to build a general-interest audience.


The grand overview(s)

2020 Vision: What’s Next For News: My response to Clay Shirky’s Thinking the Unthinkable represented my ideas about the likely progress of the current media meltdown, but also everything I could put together about how 21st century journalism might go about reassembling itself. See also: A Virtual New-Media InterviewNew Media Virtual Interview No. 2, and: Web Coordinates 2.0, written in conjunction with NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen.

Semantic Journalism

Imagining the Semantic Economy: The first in a series of essays in which I describe the market for, and implications of, a platform I call a Semantic Content Management System (SCMS). This series, based on concepts I initially explored while consulting for Chicago-based E-Me Ventures in the winter of 2009-10, also updates ideas expressed in earlier posts about semantic journalism and its business models.

Standards-based journalism in a semantic economy: The second in my series of semantic essays, this one goes into greater detail in describing how the use of Semantic Content Management Systems could pave the way for a system of journalism that emphasizes information standards. It includes links to more than twenty subordinate pages that I created to explain points in the essay, and I later added a separate FAQ.

Advertising is not enough. The first two installments in my semantic series required some intellectual heavy lifting, but this riff on the untimely demise of local news start-up TBD did a better job of communicating some of my core ideas to a larger audience.

The Future, On The Cheap. Can we all just agree, finally, that trying to find ever-cheaper ways to produce content will never make news-media companies more solvent, much less secure a future for meaningful journalism in American society? The essay proposes that momentum is building around a data-funded model for journalism. A follow-up to Advertising is not enough.

The “Lack of Vision” Thing: Well, Here’s a Hopeful Vision For You: Today’s paradox is that we live in an information society that doesn’t value our traditional information producers (journalists). This is the essay where I first proposed a radically different approach to the practice and business of journalism, based on the principles of the semantic web and information architecture. See Also: Journalism From a Software Perspective, a lengthy post in which I introduced some of these principles in February 2006.

The Imagination Gap: I critiqued the predictive value of Jeff Jarvis’ study of new business models for news as too artificially limited by his demand for immediacy and used a comparison to Kevin Kelly to suggest that we should be more interested in the semantic journalism ideas I expressed in The “Lack of Vision” Thing. Jarvis responded, which brought renewed attention to the informatics model and led to my follow-up post on the subject, The Future is Nearer Than You Think. As one reader noted, many of the ideas that are key to my thinking on these topics are outlined in my July post Free Wants to be Big. Also related: The Limits of Social.

Narrative is Dead! Long live Narrative! How essential is the narrative form to the cause of journalism? In this long-form essay, I put forward the case for a “theory of the press” that encourages non-narrative innovation as the path toward preserving the value of quality narrative.

A New Form of Writing: In this ostensibly short essay (its links represent a much larger job of writing), I make a case that the spirit of the Web should inspire us to write in succinct summary, while creating enough linked supporting material to achieve clarity. The post itself is an experiment in the form, with 20+ links, at least 14 of which lead to pages that I created to serve the essay. I consider this my most under-appreciated post, and I still think it has the potential to change the way we thinking about writing in the Internet age.

Kerosene Journalism and the quest for the atom: Why data is the new oil, and what represents the atomic unit of journalism?

Self-destructing newspapers and other entertainments

My Final Newspaper Article: The editor of The Post and Courier’s Faith and Value’s section requested this column in my final week before leaving on a buyout in 2008, but his bosses at The Post and Courier refused to print it.  Which is just poetic.

The Newspaper Suicide Pact: Why the newspaper industry’s ill-fated pay-wall plans for the summer of 2009 won’t work, and what it means for the future. See also: The Paid-Online-Subscription Pipedream: Another 3-Point Plan To Save Newspapers: Rupert and the Paywall Oblivion Cliff; Reform the Media? How 2009, and The Worst Thing About The Paywall Question.

10 Reasons Why Newspapers Won’t Reinvent News: Newspapers haven’t been innovators. Here’s why we shouldn’t expect that to change any time soon.

Paid Content and Free Content at George’s Restaurant: A simple example demonstrating the fallacies of the “Stop giving away content on the Web!” argument (Hint: It’s not about giving away content, it’s about the value of the ads on the content you give away).

The Fire That Frees the Seed: Why the death of the metro newspaper isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Other big ideas

Transparency journalism: an FAQ: A 2,400-word look at how to replace the old notion of journalistic objectivity with a new approach based on transparency.

The Big Pool of Money Experiment: What would happen if we created an ISP fee that could be divided up around all the content creators who applied for a traffic-based share of the resulting fund?

21st century Trust: The Techno-Geek Way!: Transparency is the new objectivity. But how do you use modern information tools to determine and communicate credibility?

‘Free’ Wants to be Big: Why the flip-side of freeconomics isn’t a free-culture hippie utopia but the return of Very Big corporate power.

Organizing #CHS News Twitter From The Ground Up and Charleston Hashtag Summit: Two posts on how local professional and citizen media worked together in Charleston to create a shared folksonomy for news.

Commerce Hubs and the Future of Advertising: I was WAAAAAY too early to this party.

The Intelligence Briefing Model of Journalism: What if Predictive Intelligence were more important to communicating and organizing information than “objectivity?” You might wind up with something like this.

New Media yakkety

Blogging in the new decade: My 2010 look back at the five-year history of Xark describes how the context in which blogging takes place changes what a blog is, how it is consumed, and what it all means.

Twitter: Menace or Threat? A rant about dumb mass-media coverage of new media themes.

The Campaign Against Wikipedia: There was a time (March 2006) when I was one of the few newspaper editors who was publicly defending Wikipedia during the initial attempt by the mass-media to discredit the strange new “encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”  Reporters cast me in the “opposing viewpoint” role.

Journalism, technology and the press

Why Comments Suck (& Some Ideas on Un-Sucking Them): Advice for news websites that just can’t quite figure out how to interact with the public.

Axioms For 21st Century Media: Fifteen ideas to consider.

When “Shoddy” Is Your Business Plan: Why journalism on the cheap doesn’t have a great future.

Who’s Watching the Watchdogs?: Examining the popular (among some journalists and most corporate media executives, anyway) view that democracy is doomed without their well-compensated services.

/editorial endorsements: My argument for the abolition of unsigned editorial endorsements by the mainstream press.

Resetting the Filters: Why we need a new and improved theory of political press coverage.

Five Lessons About Newspaper Contests: Why I stopped entering them, and why your news organization ought to join me if it hopes to survive.

Why The Tower Must Fall: The newspaper crisis isn’t a technology problem or a business problem. It’s a culture problem.

An Old Idea Has a New Future: Why optical scanners and visual bar codes — a rejected technology from the 1990s — has a print industry role using a new device: the cell phone.

Ad Hocracy: This post proposed using Twitter and available free tools as the basis for ad hoc news networks connecting event and breaking news coverage to mass media. It did so in March 2008, about a month ahead of the session I led on this at the 2008 CreateSouth conference — and several months before the unveiling of Search Twitter made this dream a reality, without all the cludgy work-arounds.

Foundations of 21st Century Journalism: Written for students and faculty in advance of my SPJ-funded engagement at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism, February 2008.  Other media posts written in my “Oxford Series” include: Waking up the blog; Quality and other essential bullshit; Thinking versus Quorum Sensing; Why quality is a moving target; and Gloom and doom.

Latest Project: Embedded, Geo-Tagged Video Maps: I thought this was an exciting technology in September 2007, but I couldn’t get my fellow newspaper editors to even visit, much less play with, the examples I created and published.

New Culture, New Media: What does mass-meda have to offer post-mass-media sub-cultures?

What If Your Business Plan Was Love? If you’re making media based on angering the least number of audience members, you’re going about it backwards.

Hyping Hyper-Local: Talking back to the popular misunderstanding of the value of hyperlocal journalism to newspapers — and readers.

Competition and Its Alternatives: Explaining to my colleagues why I linked to the other media in my market when they wrote things that were relevant to my topic. Didn’t make my colleagues like it any better, but…