Below you will find a video of Clay Shirky’s interview — well, it’s more of a great conversation — with Leonard Witt at Sustainable Journalism.
This isn’t my first time I’ve been introduced to Shirky. Earlier this semester for my Publishing in the Information Age class, we read one of his blog posts about the future of newspapers. That, too, is a great read and has some very interesting stuff. While depressing at times, he has an optimistic feeling about the future of newspapers and journalism and in the end, Shirky says, there will be many attempts to fix journalism. Many will fail and there will not be one single solution, but the collective attempts will yield a positive return.
That’s a great philosophy and I really enjoy what he has to say on the matter. That’s why I like this interview and recommend it to any journalist. Whenever he speaks about this type of matter, he has a great tone and is very easy to follow and understand.
Now, he does say a lot of the same things in the video as he does in the linked blog post, but he gets a little deeper. He says that there is no fix for journalism and the old model will no longer be an option because, after all, we’re going through a revolution.
But he follows that up by saying that news is obtained, distributed and received differently than before. Because of that, Shirky says, “things are going to get weirder before they get saner; they’re going to get more diverse before we understand the new landscape we’re in.”
I have to agree with him, here, and I still find it hard to believe that some editors at newspapers are trying to hold on to the last remaining bits of their paper. Don’t get me wrong, I love the feel a print paper as much as the next 20th century guy, but the times are different. It’s time to abandon a sinking ship and embrace the technology that is available.
It’s only a matter of time before things will get better. It might be different, and at times it won’t feel right, but that will change. And it won’t just be a specific day, week or month — or maybe even year — that we will be able to look back and show as the turning point in journalism. But eventually there will be a day when journalism is no longer read in newspapers or on your typical — and often boring and hard to navigate —newspaper website. The news will originate from the people and be distributed through various forms of online media back to the people. We just don’t know what that will look like.
Journalism won’t die, but, and as sad as this sounds, newspapers will.
As a side note, Shirky doesn’t believe everything will be completely perfect in the future as some media coverage will suffer. I won’t let you know his feelings on that and suggest you watch the interview.