The Great Online Journalism Lie
This is the same guy who was a Wall Street analyst touting dot com businesses and one of the voices crying that the old models of business -- you know, the ones about needing revenue and a way to work toward a profit -- were dead. All you needed was a market willing to invest, also known as the greater fool theory. You invest money and wait for a bigger fool to pay you more for the shares.
And now, as an online journalist covering high tech, he's apparently found his latest cause: claiming that the old media are dead. And, in one sense, I'd agree that newspapers, certainly, are facing some major problems and many are not going to survive. And according to the report of a talk he recently gave at a conference, some of his points were good.
But in one area he makes a critical mistake, assuming that setting down words, and even finding facts, is the same as journalism:
Henry also pointed out that journalism isn't dying, it's just old-line newspapers which aren't adapting. In the new model, with 1 billion potential fact-checkers, if Watergate were to occur today, the underlying documents would have been posted to smokinggun.com. [Emphasis from the original.]His argument is specious. The vast majority of information on Watergate didn't come from documents someone could find online or even in a physical public file. It came from investigative reporting, speaking with hundreds of sources and using relationships developed over years. Getting the story out took a frighteningly large number of hours by teams of reporters, and all the resources they needed, at a number of major dailies. Having fact checkers is nice, but someone has to go get the facts in the first place. If Watergate were to happen today, not only would the world of potential fact-checkers be useless, but most of the writers, including Blodget himself, wouldn't have a clue as to how they would even begin reporting this type of story.
Just look at what the Washington Post had going for it: a couple of tenacious reporters on staff, the resources to allow the reporters to concentrate on all the related stories for months on end, the money to hire any necessary legal help, and the prestige to help attract potential sources. You won't find that at most online sites, and no large collection of enthusiastic crowds that don't have the time and money to pursue such reporting can help.
The real pity is that by the time most people realize this, it will be too late. So much of online work depends on original news reporting that a good deal will fall away.