Sorry to tell you, but the market doesn’t care

Like a Molotov cocktail hurled into a crowd, Publishing 2.0 blogger Scott Karp has ignited the already heated debate about the future of journalism and publishing with his most recent post, entitled “The market and the internet don’t care if you make money”.

He’s pinched the title from Seth Godin, the marketing pundit who is peddling his latest book Tribes, but Karp takes the idea and runs with it in a long screed about how the Internet has broken the newspaper industry’s business model, a topic about which plenty of people including myself have written about ad nauseum. But Karp offers a detailed and particularly articulate discussion of this issue, writing that “Nobody has the right to a business model – Ask not what the market can do for you, but what you can do for the market.”

As usual with this sort of thing, the comments are as entertaining and thought-provoking as the blog post, and as a former journalist I can relate to the responses from people in the traditional media. The words of Thomas Jefferson, author of the American Declaration of Independence, still echo in my ears as one of the main reasons I got into the media business: “Given a choice between a government without newspapers and newspapers without government, I would not hesitate to choose the latter.” The media have an important role in informing society and keeping governments honest. But while Jefferson specifically mentioned newspapers, if he was here today I think he would understand and approve of the Internet and blogging. It is the same principle he was talking about back in the 18th century – free speech. Whether it’s Rupert Murdoch or Ariana Huffington or Joe Bloggs exercising that right doesn’t matter.

At the end of the day, say what we will, the market doesn’t care about ‘quality’ journalism and comprehensive local news coverage. We collectively need to find a model that works in this new and changing environment. I agree with Karp that a future business model lies in the power of networks, not the power of monopolies.

[Reproduced from Zazoo blog]


Blog me liberty, or blog me death?

OK, everyone put on your blue facepaint and your best Scottish accent, and shout along with me, “The enemy may take our lives, but they will never take OUR FREEDOM!!” Thank goodness I live in a country where I have the freedom to write whatever I want in my blog (whether anyone reads it or not is another matter). Unlike Iran, where the parliament is debating a bill that adds blogging to the list of crimes punishable by execution. Well, that is, “establishing weblogs and sites promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy,” according to a post in ReadWriteWeb.

Blogging is apparently very popular in Iran, where a new generation of young people frequently challenge the old, hyper-conservative religious government (hmm, don’t read much about those young people in the press). The Committee to Protect Bloggers says that Iran is “among the worst offenders in terms of harassing, arresting and imprisoning bloggers, as well as students.”

ReadWriteWeb says it “condemn(s) the application of the death penalty to bloggers as itself an abhorent crime. Cultural relativism has its place, but this isn’t it. We want to offer our support to the new generation of Iranian young people struggling for freedom online and elsewhere, in any way we can, short of a US invasion of the country.” Hear, hear!