how can we utilize the best tools of the Internet age to make journalism more effective?
that’s the central question i’ll be asking over the next year while i’m a knight fellow at stanford.
here’s the basic premise: the dawn of the digital/information age has turned a great deal of what we call news into a commodity by giving us the ability to check out and aggregate stories from dozens of publications at once. what we realize when we see the same stories told essentially the same way time and time again is that what we call journalism, the profession we once considered such a bastion of independent thought and analysis and penetrating observations, is often very ad hoc in its judgments, impulsively and frequently (but not always) pointlessly adversarial, at times surprisingly incurious and less interested in truth than in something we now call false objectivity.
then consider, against this set of problems, that the technology, tools and social innovations of our age enable us to simultaneously gather and makes sense of info from many sources, to engage with and to learn from thousands of people, and to shine lights into the darkest corners of our world.
i think this helps clarify a bit what’s roiling the fourth estate these days. but i’m far less concerned with the problems (since the market seems to be dealing with those rather efficiently) than i am with the opportunities and the solutions.
toward what end? to create a journalism that seeks self-actualization above all, that makes extraordinary connections, creates trust and understanding, and breaks down the barriers of culture and groupthink to arrive at simple truths that help us make better decisions. that means investigations, enterprise, adventurous reporting. in other words, nothing less than the best of old journalism making the most of new tools.