The digital news comeback will come only after a local news solution
Jun 30, 2011
Rebuilding digital communities for a fresh news environment challenges traditional journalism and disrupts the industry's model.
The digital era has profoundly eliminated distance, allowing us to potentially know about every occurrence worldwide in real time, depending on our tolerance for the chronic stress from information anxiety. This revolutionized journalism like nothing since Gutenberg's invention of movable type. It redefined physical reality, recreated organizational maps (creating more credible, albeit intangible ones), and significantly disrupted communities, undermining the journalism industry's model. So, what's next?
The future is uncertain, but some can see beyond the current industry confusion and are likely closer to the truth. In a thought-provoking article, Daily Dot founder Nicholas White, along with tech-savvy Nova Spivack, explains why he decided to create a new newspaper model. White, who left his family's mid-nineteenth-century-established chain of radio stations and newspapers in the US, is not an outsider.
White and the Daily Dot are based on a key premise. They argue that the traditional community has fragmented due to the flood of information, the nimbleness of small information providers, and digital challenges large corporations struggle with bureaucratically. Geoff Livingston mentioned in his book Welcome to the 5th State how a multibillion-dollar American corporation required seven managerial approval levels for a single tweet. Communities that newspapers once targeted have now formed virtual connections, defining new realities and organizational maps that aren't tangible, but are paradoxically the only real ones.
The Daily Dot's proposal may seem disconcerting to those accustomed to their local paper reporting on potholes on their street. But readers should question why they're paying for printed information they knew the day before, usually available for free and from diverse perspectives that a newspaper can't offer. Therefore, the Daily Dot aims to redefine the concept of community so that readers feel engaged with their own reality, not dictated by newspapers' operational schedules unchanged for over a century.
The aforementioned "discomfort" is natural because the Daily Dot's proposal aligns with a reality that's not entirely established and yet to be recognized by the majority, but it likely will be. At least in theory, I find White's argument more convincing than the satisfaction of traditional newspapers in Brazil, which have begun to sell more advertising for a circumstantial reason (the economy doubled in size in the last 12 years). Structural causes carry more weight than circumstantial ones. In this respect, there's no questioning White and the Daily Dot.