Internet Stone Soup | TechCrunch

Writing changed as the Internet changed. In this article Internet Stone Soup the Techcrunch writer John Biggs describes his experience of what happened to media in the 21st century, it can begin to explain how we ended up in an era of intentional ignorance and with a truly broken media.

The writer of this article was consuming content in 2001 as the average Facebook and Twitter user does today -  it made him crazy and hurt. But it also prepared him for the unending torrent of news that he would be managing in the 2010s: Soon Gizmodo was posting 60 or so posts a day with little editorial oversight – a constant source of information unmatched in the media industry. Everything, from newspapers to television, to magazines, required more processing time.

TC writer Devin Coldewey wrote that in blogging you could have three things – speed, accuracy, or insight – but you could only pick two for every posted. Techcrunch aimed for speed and accuracy more than insight. 

Suddenly an entire news industry sprung up and current news sites changed drastically. When everything is breaking news there is no breaking news. Everything receives equal import and equal attention, which is to say almost none at all. More hot takes thant riple-sourced, copy-edited, fact-checked news story everywhere. Soon almost everyone was a blogger.

New technologies like RSS newsreaders were both damaging to bottom line and helped spread news far and wide. Social media came later. This viral information offered something very special to the average reader: It offered instant comfort and it scratched the itch of the new. It became some of the most compelling entertainment around. It has ads disguised craftily as news stories. We read news story after news story in multiple formats silent videos, social shares, headlines on Twitter. The worrying is that we build our worldview with them.

That’s where we are. The Internet was supposed to grow our brains and give world’s culture, wisdom, and news at our fingertips. What we have mostly is an endless supply of ridiculous videos, news snippets, and political opinions all served up on demand in an instant. We see – not read – more in one day than the average 1800s farmer saw in his lifetime. We have moved into the Information Age. It has given us tools, made millionaires and it has educated millions.

Information Age also got the devils. The devils are fake news, fake outrage, and anti-intellectualism. As trusted news sources fell to the Internet, untrusted sources took their place. A writer brings poetry and prose. A politician brings promises. Groups of digital native Internet users have been taking advantage of a world defined by fast, loose, and easy by “making” news. Then an army of trolls comes with horseshit. We have entered the Disinformation Age.

The vision of news curated by a careful and intelligent hand – a media landscape that blogs once attempted to create – is essentially gone replaced by a sense that the news media is rigged.

It seems that much of what has ruined the current news marketplace stems from an anti-technological viewpoint. Traditional medial is in this current death spiral. The hardest job ever will be to convince ourselves that real news matters and costs money. Gathering news is hard, breaking news is hard, and writing news well is hard.

1 Comment

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Will Oremus / Slate:
    The push for an antitrust exemption highlights the contradiction between the civic purpose and for-profit motive of newspapers

    Newspapers’ Stand Against Tech Giants Won’t Save Them
    But it could help them resolve their existential crisis.

    The current news economy holds much more opportunity for national and special-interest publications than it does for the local, general-interest papers.

    Newspapers’ business models have been taking on water for years thanks to the rise of Google and online advertising, and they’re continuing to gradually sink as their readers find more of their news on Facebook. The social network and the omnipresent search engine steer some online traffic to publishers’ story pages, but they siphon much of the ad money along the way. Meanwhile, their free, ultraconvenient aggregation of stories from all over the internet discourages users from even visiting a newspaper’s home page, let alone paying for a subscription. So newsrooms across the country continue to jettison jobs, clinging ever tighter to Facebook even as it undermines their ability to stay afloat.

    Understandably, newspapers are resorting to some desperate measures.

    negotiate with Facebook and Google over ad-revenue deals and other issues collectively rather than individually

    The bid is a long shot, for several reasons. Even if an anti-media Congress were to grant the papers an exemption from antitrust laws, Facebook and Google would still hold the leverage in negotiations. And any concessions they win seem unlikely to do much to secure newspapers’ long-term future.

    For newspaper companies, asking Congress for help with their businesses would have been anathema even a decade ago. It runs against their fierce sense of independence from government interference and bespeaks weakness bordering on desperation. Yet weakness bordering on desperation is exactly the position in which many of them now find themselves, and even some modest short-term gains would buy them much-needed runway to keep trying to figure things out.


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