Monday, June 19, 2006

Open source journalism

Today's Washington Post had the best analysis I've read in the mainstream press about the relationship between newspapers, online news, and bloggers.

It says that newspaper executives and editors have been very slow to recognize that there is nothing they can do to "wall off" the influence of the blogosphere. Instead, they need to recognize that they must become more interactive or expire at a more rapid rate than is occurring naturally.

The analysis also raises the possibility of newspapers and other media outlets of declaring their partisanship of one stripe or another.

The day after President Bush was re-elected in 2004, I suggested on my blog that at least some news organizations should consider themselves the opposition to the White House. Only by going into opposition, I argued, could the press really tell the story of the Bush administration's vast expansion of executive power.

That notion simply hadn't been discussed in mainstream newsrooms, which had always been able to limit debate about what is and isn't the job of the journalist. But now that amateurs had joined pros in the press zone, newsrooms couldn't afford not to debate their practices. This is disruptive because if the unthinkable cannot be ignored, professional correctness loses its power.
That's a drum Tom Roeser has been beating for some time at his excellent blog, one of the most interesting around.

The whole debate reminds me of the way I use software on my Apple computer. Apple's operating system is wide open -- meaning it allows open source developers to come up with all sorts of specialty software that operates lean and mean for whatever specific function you are looking for.

I find that I use behemoths like Microsoft Word less and less. Those programs are massive, slow and not fun to use. Just like most of the big media outlets.

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