Friday, May 18, 2007

Eyewitness Journalism: "The death of TMN and the rise of citizen darwinism"

The trees of the world should be shaking their branches in happiness as the traditional newspaper rag quickly dies out of existence.

InfoWorld recently went 100% online. I think they are the first magazine to officially do so. And they did it by choice too. Only time (and online ad revenues) will tell if this evolutionary step away from pulp will ultimately make or break this tech-savvy news source.

More and more publishing and media distribution has shifted away from Television, Magazines and Newspapers (TMN) and straight into the free online sphere. Joost, ESPN, NY Times, etc are all drawing audiences based on their web coverage.

Last Wednesday night I hosted the NY Citizen Journalism meetup at my office. Our discussion was focused primarily around the bias in media (is it right/wrong/ or necessary), monetization of these processes. content quality and legal wrangling.

Participants involved Neighborhood America, nowpublic, Citizen Image and Ground Report.

What strikes me as most important about this "citizen" arena is the bias and quality of reporting that is taking place.

For instance, I write this blog as my opinion of how things stand. However no one moderates my comments except for myself. My prejudiced fingers are typing each one of these letters. The advent of citizen journalist reverts us back to a time when anybody with a printing press or a photocopier could self-publish their heretical thoughts.

Luckily, the quality of the content is usually quite high when it is moderated in a format much like that presented by NowPublic. Videos, postings and newsworthy stories are vetted before they reach the masses which in turn (through other flagging safeguards) allows for better information.

Moderation still does not regulate the quality of the postings nor the inherent bias of each author. Rather, we are faced with a popularity contest.

Luckily for us the consumer, popularity (which can be defined in many ways) is most likely founded on quality. Digg alone is proof that the best wins the largest audience. In turn we are faced with a future of newsworthy stories vetted through the readership. A citizen darwinism.

The fact that Portfolio magazine came out last month does not bother me. It just doesn't make any sense to start ultra luxe new magazines when the mechanism for growth is so small. Conde Nast, a once great powerhouse, should be digitizing everything instead of stagnating on old concepts.

But what do I know?