Posts Tagged ‘James Fallows’

News by Google. And that’s not a bad thing.

I told you so. Whoever was listening, anyway, that someone will figure out a solution to the news business. And whoever does will profit. And the rest of us will probably all say, duh, why didn’t we think of that?

Well, maybe we won’t think we’d have thunk it. But surely it’s no surprise who would. Here’s a hint. Whatever you’re googling right now is amateur night. You see, Google wants to bring back the news business.

And its Silicon Valley sensibility has what I think the industry needs. To be honest, I’m probably one of the few former print journalists who doesn’t lament the crumbling of the industry. I think the system got fat and arrogant. And when it faltered, it appealed to the lowest common denominator, compromising its value and credibility.  I think the shake-up will mean a reborn industry that will be thrilling and beneficial in unforeseen ways.

Google’s motivation is partly self interest. Searching works as long as there’s something worth searching for, as James Fallows explains in the cover story of this month’s “The Atlantic.” 

A strong, free society hinges not only on the free flow of information, for which the Web and Google have done wonders, but the particular expertise of watchdogs and analysts. Given the dissolution of today’s press and its increasingly fractured form, I don’t know whether those voices will stand alone or represent an institution. In other words, does  Tom Friedman need The New York Times, or does The New York Times need Tom Friedman? Speaking of which, check out Friedman’s column framing the oil spill as President Obama’s 9/11 moment to galvanize a national clean energy policy.

I’d argue that Friedman could stand alone, that he has enough draw to be his own media brand.  You may rightly point out: “But Friedman’s a columnist. What about the reporting of good old-fashioned facts? ” Well, here’s my prediction, and hope.  Maybe the democratization of the Internet means the cream will eventually rise to the top, whether one provides fact or opinion.

I believe Americans — not all of them, but enough of them — will value those who deliver consistent, credible information. Meanwhile, there will be those who value salacious nonsense. Fine. I’m not worried that news judgement is best left to reporters.

For one, we’ve got Google now. And with that comes plenty of sites for the rank and file to rank and review. Let it all roll out there, and let ’em all weigh in.

God bless democracy. God bless innovation. And God bless America.