It might first appear that this is a solution looking for a problem. But it's becoming clear that the problem of mainstream media is adjusting to a world where grown ups are in charge and the nature of journalism is moving away from "gotcha."
It is inexorably moving towards finding the stories that inspire and what Malcolm Gladwell describes as solving mysteries instead of puzzles. As the mainstream media adjusts, it opens space for a printernet to grow.
In a post over at Tough Love for Xerox, I quoted David Eaves, an expert in negotiation and public policy who works with two spin-offs of the Harvard Negotiation Project, Common Outlook and Vantage Partners and as a fellow at the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Queen's University.
He correctly noted that
a reshaping of credibility from objectivity to transparency, would have profound implications for every organization – corporate, non-profit and governmental – in our society.And then today there appeared an article at Miller McCune Magazine. It reports an experiment that finds citizens prefer political news un-mediated by journalists and vice versa.
Most political leaders would generally like to get out their messages without a media that often adds its own twist to the story. And more and more, they actually are trying to do so: Some are putting up their own videos on YouTube.com; others are now sending out their own Twitter feeds.Imagine if politicians had the ability to printernet publish. They could get a 4 page newsletter, versioned for every important niche audience in their constituency delivered in a day or so from the time they hit the print button.
Imagine if a web only newspaper could printernet publish in versioned print for hyperlocal audiences. Or for supralocal audiences who are united by a common interest.
That's just of the many problems, the printernet would solve.
Miller-McCune Online Magazine:
"According to a new study, one consequence might be that citizens would feel better about the political process. They'd be less cynical; they'd think politics was more representative. At least, that's what Brian J. Fogarty, a professor of political science at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, and Jennifer Wolak, a professor of political science at the University of Colorado, Boulder found. Their study is published in the January issue of American Politics Research."
To assess how people might respond to political information when they read it as news as opposed to when they get it directly from politicians, they had one group read a news article and one group read dueling editorials from prominent political leaders on one of three issues — affirmative action, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), and stem cell research. In each test, the article and the editorials contained the same information and perspectives.
The two groups were then asked to respond. "Do you feel that the views presented in the article reflect the opinion of ordinary Americans?" Of those who got the news directly from politicians, roughly 45 percent said yes, the views were representative of ordinary Americans. Of those who read the news articles, meanwhile, only 16 percent found the views representative. (The results were generally consistent across the three issues). That adds up to a pretty sizeable difference, given that both groups were presented with the same information.