Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Blame the Intertubes

Michael Wolff writes in Vanity Fair about the news business and the profound changes that continue to shake the industry. He describes a meeting where news people are trying to work with software experts to develop something new that will still work as a news operation.

"What about a sliding bar?" Mike Wu, a software engineer, offers just a little grudgingly. "Like from hard to soft news. So you can set it where you want to?"

"Really? From serious broadsheet to scandalous tabloid?" I wonder if this plasticity is miraculous or ludicrous. "From Ben Bernanke to Paris Hilton. And could this work, from unreconstructed crypto-Fascist religious right to loony absolutist left?"

"If we get the algorithm right."

Can the A-word save the news? Because, in its various current forms, the news—as a habituating, slightly fetishistic, more or less entertaining experience that defines a broad common interest—is ending.....

I've persuaded my daughter to become a newspaper reporter. In her first year on the job, she's seen two of the nation's top three newspaper chains—Knight Ridder and the Tribune Company—sold, as well as massive declines in advertising and circulation, not to mention Katie Couric's confirming the foolishness and irrelevancy of network news. "I hope," my daughter says, "you have a plan."

Ridley Scott isn't too happy, either.

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