We Are The News
In the last few years several newspapers have started competing with the venerable City Paper for the free newspaper trade in DC. The Washington Post Express, The Washington Examiner, and now, The Onion. I fight the urge to read them, because at the end of my commute I'd rather write than read. Besides, I can read news on the web, thanks to social networks like Metafilter and postings on my LiveJournal friends list. My social networks identify what news I would find worth reading better than any newspaper editor.
So I end up reading everything, but in a sense I read virtually nothing the way it was intended by the reporter to be read, because often what draws me to a news piece is the comments people post, which reveal more interesting information and provide more context than the original article. For example, a journalist will report on a new cell phone. Then a reader will ask why this new technology matters and another reader will answer their question.
This dialogue about the news changes journalism into a source of imformation that enables the news, but now longer conveys the news as people experience it. Reporters no longer define the context of the news or why it matters; readers do that for them. People still write letters to the editor, but those are left to teh discretion of the editor, and take a day or two to make the next paper, and people don't keep yesterday's paper just in case today's paper has a witty comment about yesterday's news. On the web, news and comment are linked, and free of the control of the reporter.
This can be a bad thing. Reporters stick to facts, facts get spun. People with agendas just read the spin. People like me.
As always, tell me what you think.