Crucial reading on the evolution of news, as it stands today

I feel like this summer has been sort of a rolling watershed moment in the Present of News, if not necessarily the Future of it.

(Yes, yes, the lowercase present is always becoming the lowercase future, but I’m talking about the supposed collective vision for the Future of News that, well, usually gets held up as a straw man as if every proponent of online news tools for communication believes the same thing.)

There are a lot of ongoing battles right now, if I can call them that, over things like paywalls and copyright. These are more than kerfuffles here, folks; we’re talking about the future business model paths for some pretty large chunks of the mainstream media at this point, for better or worse.

So, in an effort to pull together some of what I think would be the most important footnotes in the Summer 2009 chapter of the book someone surely must be writing at this point, here are some recent favorites:

Microformats, hNews, the AP and the Animals: Steve Yelvington sanely and succinctly dissects the AP/microformats weirdness and explains what could be great about the deal (Semantic Web!) and what doesn’t make any sense about the way they’re going about it (Function-free DRM!).

Chris Anderson on the Economics of ‘Free’: ‘Maybe Media Will Be a Hobby Rather than a Job’: Everything Chris Anderson says in this Spiegel interview is quotable and crucial to anyone interested in the future of news. Like this, for example: “If something has happened in the world that’s important, I’ll hear about it. I heard about the protests in Iran before it was in the papers because the people who I subscribe to on Twitter care about those things.”

The Nichepaper Manifesto: If you haven’t taken a look at Umair Haque’s piece yet, I think you’ll want to. Niches, topics, different models that are working online to bring *some* news to *some* people. Worth keeping around as a reference.

The Pushbutton Web: Realtime Becomes Real: Anil Dash’s crucial primer on the blossoming technology behind the Real-Time Web. This is the most important thing I’ve read in the last week.

What Would Fair Use Look Like in an Online Era?: C.W. Anderson starts exploring what an updated Fair Use test should look like in 2009. “1. The presence and quality of the link…”

A lesson from Patchwork Nation: Frameworks for Reporting: Chris Amico explains: “When I get a new set of data, I spend a good deal of time deciding what’s important, and where a story is. I might run it through a visualization tool, like ManyEyes. Starting with data but no story tends to be a slow process. Ending up with a story but no data makes me feel like I haven’t done my job.”

And you? What’s on your crucial reading list?

This post was ridiculously easy to write and compile thanks to Publish2’s WordPress plugin and its Link Assist feature. (Yes, I work at Publish2.)

8 thoughts on “Crucial reading on the evolution of news, as it stands today”

  1. […] Crucial reading on the evolution of news, as it stands today. All the skills in the world won’t help without a critical understanding on how news, the way it is covered and the way it is delivered are changing. Ryan Sholin has provided a great, annotated list of what you should be reading to keep up with it all. Highly recommended. […]


  2. Great list, with exception of Anderson, who I think is a doofus. The quote you cite is the perefect example. “If somethings has happened in the world I’ll hear about…” Great soundbite that’s completely ridiculous. Everything? Really? Beyond the obvious examples of massive investigative projects, that are countless examples of things that happen every day in our communities that you’d never hear about.


  3. @Chris – Well, I said he was quotable. I’m going to stay out of most of the argument about the interview, but I think there was a healthy dose of being sick of the same old questions in there.


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