by Sean Chercover
On March 13, technology writer and NYU professor Clay Shirky posted an amazing think piece titled Newspapers and Thinking The Unthinkable, which set the blogosphere buzzing - and the buzzing hasn't stopped.
Many of Shirky's points are not new, but I have never seen the entire issue addressed so cogently in one piece. It's a long post, over 2,700 words, and it would be unfair of me to try and do a Cliff Notes version here, but I urge you - if you have any interest in the future of journalism - to read his post.
The response has been huge. Not only the 700+ comments on Shirky's blog, but all around the blogosphere. Newspapers too, both here and in the UK, have chimed in, and the response has been passionate, both pro and con.
Interestingly, many of those who've commented do not seem to have read his post. At the Tucson Citizen, Billie Stanton writes, "Tech-happy gurus Clay Shirky and Dave Winer already are dancing on a nonexistent grave, giddy that hordes of Internetters will take our place." I see no grave-dancing in Shirky's piece - in fact I see a great deal of concern. Dan Tynan at Computerworld gets it, and is likewise concerned for the survival of "professional journalism", appropriately skeptical that "citizen journalists" (i.e. amateurs) on the Internet can or will do the job.
Talking to a room full of journalism students in New York, ABC newsman Charlie Gibson seemed to blame the newspaper crisis on young people who selfishly insist on getting their news for free on the Internet. When asked for his thoughts on Clay Shirky's piece, he said Shirky is "full of crap", which I fear says more about Gibson than Shirky.
While there's nothing to be giddy about here, this revolution is happening and we need to be talking about it. Shaking your finger at young people for not subscribing to print newspapers is not going to ensure the survival of journalism.
Anyway, if you're a news junkie/journalism geek like I am, read the piece and let me know your thoughts.
In other earth-shaking news, I have both Michigan State and Villanova in the March Madness pool, so I am a happy boy.
And finally, do NOT play the Afraid Game at Joe Konrath's Jack Kilborn website. Or do. But don't blame me. Blame Joe. He is a sick man.