[00:00 Jeff Jarvis] When I started writing — I look at new relationships, new forms and new models for news — I started with forms. That’s what we do. We are encased in this form, and we know the formula is just to tap that. And I quickly realized — well, not so quickly — that that was all wrong
[00:25] In fact, what the Internet changes is our relationship with the public we serve. And then this forced me to think about what the proper relationship is, for journalists to the public. And we tend to think that it’s manufacturing a product called content, that we think you should honor and buy, and encases all of our value. That’s a legacy of mass media. Treating everyone the same because we had to make a product to serve everyone and everyone the same.
[00:50] The Internet obviously changes that. We now see the opportunity to serve people as individuals. That’s what made me think journalism, properly conceived, is a service. A service, properly defined, accomplishes things for people. If I’m going to accomplish something for you, then I’m going to have to know what your needs are, before I can pretend that I can meet them. This means I have to know you as an individual, or as a member of a community, and no longer a mass. Quoting Raymond Williams: “there are no masses, only ways of seeing people as masses”.
[01:20] If I see you as an individual, if I want to serve you as an individual, I have to know you as an individual, before I can get to know your needs. Once I got there, that changed … that tore it all apart.
[03:25 David Weinberger] Would you recommend that a newspaper first look at the services that we have traditionally wanted from them, and/or look at the services that are part of their capabilities of things they can do … or is that just the wrong way of fighting it?
[03:40] We have to deconstruct more than that. It forces us to deconstruct journalism school as well. When I gave this relationship schpiel, my dean — Sarah Barlett — called my bluff, and said … “Okay, what if you’re right, that journalism becomes about relationships. Are we teaching those skills in depth in a journalism school?” I thought about it, and said, “no”. She said, “how about a new degree?”, in some strange degree we’ll call social journalism.
[04:00] The first skill of this degree is to listen to communities. It is to understanding the community, what binds the community. What needs and interests bind this community? How do they define themselves, and then how do they define their needs? Only when you know that, can you start to believe that you can help them meet their needs. Then you say, what can I bring to meet those needs? That may be a wide range of different things. Will articles, and stories and news and information meet those needs? In some cases they will. But in some cases, it will be tools, it will be bringing people together to meet each other, it will be organizing like a community (pace Barack Obama). It will be educating them. It will be convening them. There’s all kinds of things that we can do or have done, that we can indeed bring to bear again, but probably not in the form that we have.
See also “Content vs. service”, What now for News? Part II | Jeff Jarvis | Medium at http://medium.com/whither-news/content-vs-service-ddbb432ab77
… if we are not in the content business, what business are we in? Consider journalism as a service. Content is that which fills something. Service is that which accomplishes something. To be a service, news must be concerned with outcomes rather than products. What should journalism’s result be? That seems obvious: better informed individuals and a better-informed society. But who’s to define “informed” and who’s to measure success: journalists or citizens? Journalists believe informing the public is their job and that it is the role of editors to decide what the public ought to know. Let’s put aside that rather paternalistic attitude toward the public we serve, for if we do not believe in the will of the public to be informed, then we might as well give up on democracy, free markets, and the ideals of education, not to mention journalism. I am confident that there will continue to be a market demand for the information a society needs to function. That must be an article of faith if we are to hold out hope to sustain journalism.