Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"Journalists" R' Us

Glenn Reynolds follows the Grand Central today's explosion and notices how the first reporters there are ordinary people. "But what caught my eye via Drudge was this picture. Everyone is taking video, or snapping photos with their cell phones. I imagine they easily outnumber the journalists doing the same."

This was the subject of a July 16 Belmont Club post, The Shape of Citizen Journalism. With people carrying the equivalent of audio, still and video capture instruments on their cell phones, it will be possible to create hyperlocal layers to the headlines -- and the Washington Post was already experimenting with such sites -- for a reason. I wrote:

Here's what I think people will see in the next decade. Big news won't go away but readers will be able to drill-down on news stories in a way impossible before. For example, suppose new riots break out in the banleius of Paris in 2017. The reader will be able to drill down into every greater detail. Was a man burned on a torched bus? Click and find the micro-journalist who is following the recovery of the victim in a hospital. Or discover how the riots have affected a particular suburb in northern Paris. Not only will you be able to drill down, but you will be able to interact with the news. With online payment systems I believe readers will be able to support micro-journalist efforts to find out more details about an story, in a miniature version of the way readers support Michael Yon in Iraq today.

Most news will be about non-political events. The consumers of the new news will be stock analysts, market researchers and the aggregators of special news products. While the headline will not go away, the story behind it will be fleshed out to a degree now impossible. And that's just the beginning.


Blogger wretchardthecat said...

People have been freelancing on the information warfare battlefield for a long time. And not just the Jihadis either. Tigerhawk notes that "Swiss Senator Dick Marty, author of a Council of Europe report on CIA jails, says dissident United States intelligence officers angry with former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld helped a European probe uncover details of secret CIA prisons in Europe."

Tigerhawk says tongue-in-cheek, "Of course, we eagerly await the demands from the New York Times editorial page that these leakers of classified information about covert CIA operations and operatives be prosecuted to the limits of the law. After all, if spreading the rumor that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA justified the appointment of a special prosecutor, surely these leakers -- who revealed actually covert operations -- should also face the bar of justice.". But I wouldn't hold my breath.

Sometimes I think the most shocking argument that can be made today about the First Amendment is that outsiders, as opposed to the players, are also protected by it.

7/18/2007 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"The consumers of the new news will be stock analysts, market researchers.."

The Market Makers already control policy. Soon the MM will have total control of information. What I see is a centralization of political power and a new feudal age. Absent of a true multiparty democracy, us lowly peasants is fscked.

7/18/2007 08:44:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Just to elaborate a bit:

MM -> open borders
MM -> loss of national sovereignty
MM -> free trade
MM -> middle class wage deflation
MM -> oil economy
MM -> cities designed for cars instead of people
MM -> spending a billion dollars on a none war
MM -> running military equipment to the ground so stocks will be replenished with new inventory
MM -> cnn/msm, parody of a news service.


7/18/2007 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

..spending a ^thousand billion dollars on a none war..

7/18/2007 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/18/2007 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/19/2007 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

As to the market makers, I'm not at all sure that they are really representing anything new. The dirty little secret about democracy is that it's really not that equitable in terms of the actual power that it spreads: "one man, one vote" is a catchy slogan but even those who do vote may only make it to the polling station once a year, at best. The real power in a democracy is not evenly spread but is, and has always been, concentrated in the hands of those who are in the best position to influence the people in a democracy. Simply looking into the etymology of the word demagogue will lead one to the understanding that disproportionately influential (and consequently powerful) people have been with us for a long time.

Likewise, the idea of powerful interests pushing for and profiting from war is hardly new. Smedley Butler claimed to have discovered this in the 1930s.

The fundamental difference between the past and the present is not the powerful interests are more concentrated: it would seem as if they are notably less so compared to the time of Ol' Gimlet Eye. I'm in my mid 30s and I can very clearly remember a time when my sources of "news" were a choice between 3 local newspapers and 3 TV stations which represented the three major broadcast corporations. That was it, unless I was willing to make a day trip into the nearest major city to find a newstand which carried foreign newspapers, all of which were days or weeks old.

The distinctive characteristic of the current age is not a concentration of persuasive power, it's most likely a diffusion. Wretchard's a great example: he not only gets a lot of hits from the United States, he's been frequently referenced in many US blogs. Without seeking to overplay his influence, we could say that Wretchard, a foreign national, is more influential in US politics than vast numbers of US citizens.

While some have tried to blame "the media" or the MSM for public perception problems in the US surrounding the Iraq situation, and somehow feel that the poor public perception is the result of a media that's significantly different than it was in past conflicts, they are frequently missing the fact that it's not just a handful of US companies making the news: it's blogs, it's foreign media, it's terrorist organizations with video cameras and, some would argue, significantly more media savvy than the Pentagon's vaunted "psy ops" professionals.

I would submit that to really understand many of the strategic problems in Iraq requires an understanding of just how radically different the communications environment is than in previous conflicts where perceptions on the home front were much more easily managed. If the US faces a giant strategic obstacle in the future it will have little to do with the weapons a potential rival manages to field and everything to do with persuading its population to initially support military action and to sustain it against an onslaught of countless interests with unprecedented capability to influence American public opinion.

7/19/2007 12:21:00 AM  
Blogger weswinger said...

The end of the world has always been at hand. And the doomsayers have had a very bad track record (of course, they only have to be right once!)

I ran across an article called Apocoholics Anonymous that struck a chord with me at a gloomy moment at

if you don't mind me sharing it, check it out.

7/19/2007 03:04:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

James/ Weswinger,

/ 500 channels of shit, is still 500 channels of shit.
/ Try to maintain a blog, it's a full-time job. But even if you do have the time and inclination
/ Blogger will not be free forever, soon you will be paying for the privilege.
/ Google is already blocking sites from its search engine.

That's the real trend.

7/19/2007 05:33:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Wrechard - Big news won't go away but readers will be able to drill-down on news stories in a way impossible before.

Maybe eventually. Right now there is no great way to disaggregate and "drill down" and no system of a way to bundle amateur journalists into a subscription service other than the more obvious technical B2B models now in existance that can be profitable.

And for now, the main impact on the general public of amateur journalists is to supply "filler garbage" to MSM outlets so they can loop video and photos endlessly and do their usual idiotic socratic method.

"Dramatic scenes of car chase in LA! Is this terror-related?"

"Photos of Natalie before her disappearance, taken by a bar patron! Could this be the clue police need to find Natalie? Greta will devote an hour to this tonight along with Natalie's mom Beth tonight at 10!

"Manhole explosion in Manhattan! Videos pouring in to MSM global outlets in the center of the MSM universe. Could this be what the "chatter" the "terror experts" warned about? Al Sharpton is in the studio and will give his opinion on the crisis. And new video is coming in from Lexington of hero firefighters going to the scene!!"

Right now, without an editing or filtering system, the amateurs only have the effect for the average public, of increasing the sea of extraneous garbage concealing a few gems that the MSM owners can select from and shovel out to the Masses for fun and profit.

7/19/2007 10:42:00 AM  

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