Elephant Diaries: Clay Shirky on Why Newspapers are Just Fucked

It’s not that we haven’t done The Right Thing. It’s that there is no Right Thing. The problems are fundamental:

The competition-deflecting effects of printing cost got destroyed by the internet, where everyone pays for the infrastructure, and then everyone gets to use it. And when Wal-Mart, and the local Maytag dealer, and the law firm hiring a secretary, and that kid down the block selling his bike, were all able to use that infrastructure to get out of their old relationship with the publisher, they did. They’d never really signed up to fund the Baghdad bureau anyway.

The thing is, no one really wanted to fund the Baghdad bureau, or the guy at the city council meeting, or at least not very many people wanted to. It was just an odd civic side effect of the old model. That’s gone.

(h/t Ken)


  1. At a talk at the American Meteorological Association last month, reporter/media critic/Pew Center fellow Tom Rosenstiel totally agreed with this thought, and said the new business model for journalism would have to be a similar “bank shot.”

    Unfortunately, he also said that everyone is looking for the new business model, and, along the lines of Shirky’s piece, added that no one has found it yet.

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