Monday, September 29, 2008

Web Triumph Day

Jeff Jarvis is too apologetic. He worries about being behaving as the "internet triumphalist" but he thinks that "somebody has to". He tries to counteract a number of fears and complaints that won't go away. "There are inaccuracies on the internet" ; "Bloggers aren't journalists" ; "People are rude on the internet" . By the way a few pages on there is a jolly funny take on what a citizen journalist might say - "the blogosphere thrives on abuse and invective.."

Anyway, back on topic, Jeff Jarvis refuses to make a claim for the internet as if it is like other media, "packaged and perfected". He prefers to see it as part of life, something messy. However when material from his Buzzmachine blog turns up later in the Guardian print version it seems to be a lot closer to normal media. Maybe it is the effect of Guardian subeditors. Maybe the comments on the blog help to add some texture and scrutiny.

the aim today is to respond to fears and complaints" once and for all. I would like to go a bit further and just accept that the Web has arrived alongside print as part of media. I find the Guardian is still often avoiding this as an issue. Parts of the paper do not hang together.

Jane Martinson writes an opinion on how the numbers for newspapers "are not good and will get worse before they get better", I cannot find any mention of websites or "news organisations". How will the numbers get better without including the Web in the same conversation? On another page Mike Butcher considers the ABCe numbers for August. ( Audited circulation with the e after as not in e-learning) The Independent site up 90% on the previous August, compared to 24% fall over two years in full-price print circulation, according to Jane Martinson. However there is almost never any discussion of what the thinking is about a transition from print to the web. Is print still a cash cow? Where is the investment? How many newspaper managers believe they could concentrate on video?

There was a time when the Saturday Guardian had a section similar to a staff blog. This explained some of what was in progress. It was dropped for a Readers Page all of which is written by proper print journalists except the headlines apparently. My suggestion would be for the readers to have more space but accept that editors know more about headlines. this, by the way, is the approach at OhmyNews, where Guardian staff might visit sometime and make a study of citizen journalism.

Getting back to my main point, it seems to me that the Guardian is not really reporting what is happening with news organisations, or letting the readers of either paper or web pages know of where it is going.

One more example of the mess and muddle. Victor Keegan has written on a Thursday about the potential for a future reading device similar to the Sony but with internet access, larger screen and so on. The Saturday bookish bit has stopped taking copy from blogs and also stopped the news feed from the Bookseller. So it continues as flat pages increasingly unconnected in my opinion. The first mention of the Sony Reader I can remember came last Saturday from Andrew Lycett. Once Amazon and the Kindle appear in the UK, there could be a danger for print publishers. Add this to the list, please, Jeff Jarvis.

Most of the Guardian, print version especially, has become a series of examples of contradictions. Online there is some acceptance for "user generated content" and the idea that the Web has arrived. In print the bloggers are often insulted as if they are a different set of people. The printed words of Jeff Jarvis are a welcome exception. It is also worth the extra work involved in making sense of the blog version on Buzzmachine.

No comments: