Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Journalism and the war: what's news today

On the war and the president:

David Michael Green, in The Smirking Chimp: What Every American Should Know About Iraq. This is a must read, with items like this:
* Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Even George Bush has now admitted this. However, over the last six years, and still to this day, Bush constantly conflates the two in almost every speech he gives, to the point where in 2003 sixty-nine percent of Americans came to believe that Saddam had been behind the 9/11 attacks. There can be little doubt that the administration used 9/11 to justify the invasion of Iraq, though they had nothing whatsoever to do with each other.

Also on this topic, Glenn Greenwald writes What "truly motivates" George W. Bush?
In virtually every speech and interview he has given, George Bush has made the same argument -- that we are in an epic battle in defense of Good against Evil and therefore must take every step possible to triumph. In large part, that is the mentality that has led to the excesses and abuses of the last six years.

Journalists in the news:

Carl Bernstein does a Web chat and is interviewed for a profile, in the Washington Post.
Over lunch, Bernstein can sound defensive when asked questions like "What have you been up to, all these years?," but he can sound positively serene, too. There were fallow years -- he'll acknowledge that -- but when he wasn't writing, he relished life and never more so, he says, than now, in the fourth year of a very happy marriage.

In Editor and Publisher, White Supremacists Target Columnist Leonard Pitts, and more in USA Today.


Here's a fascinating article in Scientific American: An Earth Without People.

Journalism's future:

A personal observation:

My great-grandfather owned a newspaper. Well, co-owned, with an Army buddy and fellow printer; they bought it after coming back to Danbury, CT from their war. After a few years he sold his share to the partner and moved to Chicago. (His miseries suffered in the Civil War may have gotten to him; his pension claims said battlefield ordeals at Gettysburg and the strain of being captured there and force-marched to Charleston, where he finished out the war in prison, gave him a bad case of rheumatism.)

His son made buttons. He moved from job to job as foreman in button factories. The business went downhill in the depression.

My father became a chemist, and worked for Eastman Kodak for nearly 40 years. He helped develop some of the most popular films Kodak made. Now film is a has-been. I have owned dozens of film cameras. Now I shoot nothing but digital.

And, although my publisher ancestor's story is something I didn't learn until later, I expect I must have known somehow I had newspapers in my blood; I worked for two of the best in a period of 30-some years. Luckily I got to experience journalism when it was still booming, before it seemed to be coming apart.

So this blog post really caught my eye: John Duncan at The Inksniffer says You can't own a pixel: Why Kodak's digital exposure is a warning to newspapers. He says the idea that Kodak's shift to digital mirrors the newspaper website shift isn't true:
They invested in new products that exploit the shift to digital, but they didn't become a digital company. They don't take their products from being bricks-and-mortar things and make them exist only on the internet. They don't try and own "Pixels".
They still make stuff you can touch.
...Kodak had a much easier problem to figure out than newspapers because the ownership of the core product - the image - didn't change hands. It always belonged to the consumer.

Taking pictures is cheaper than it ever was, sharing images is easier, but you still need a camera to do it and you still have to pay for that camera (Kodak is there) and you need a printer and paper if you ever want to have copies to put on your fridge (Kodak are there too). But you, the photographer, own the image you took just like you always did.

We in newspapers have lost control of ownership of our core product - information and a "license" to gather, sort and distribute it.

And without that ownership the rest of our business model is worthless. Until we re-establish ownership in some new form we have no future online.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home