Shirky’s Guide to the Media Universe

March 25, 2010

“The old bargain of the newspaper–world news lumped in with horoscopes and ads from the pizza parlor–has now ended.”

This is the harsh reality that print lovers have to come to–in an age of instantaneous satisfaction, newspapers have become inadequate. I still slide my UB card through the card reader on the newspaper holding station where the day’s NY Times waits for me to pick up before class. I feel bad not taking one on the way to class, but by this time, I have most likely browsed the Web enough to get an idea of top stories and the day’s breaking news. I also feel bad taking one because I know I’ll have to dispose of it, when the most topical subject of the day could be climate change, if the news is slow.

From Clay Shirky’s book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, the topic of the “mass amateurization” of the media is dissected and explained in a chapter called “Everyone is a Media Outlet.” He focuses on interesting points regarding the way people have approached the decline of print. People don’t know what to do, he says, because newspapers have been valiant for so long, and still remains a resource people have lots of faith in.

Shirky states that people often disregard the Internet as something that can be life-changing in essence because it’s not an institution headed by a visible leader. This thought is a “narcissistic bias” in the business. Well, I’m sure those people have had their wake up call by now.

The author states that people behind newspapers were utterly dumbfounded when they discovered all their ad revenue was being drained due to the popularity of free post Websites such as or

The media has also had a slight–or major, subjectively–downfall because of the ease of communication now. It used to be the easiest form of communicating a wide range of news because of the high cost.

What’s the best way to stay informed about the news now, is the all important question that needs to be asked.

My opinion is people will have their favorite news source that they will always turn to for news. However, they will start to look for people to interpret their news and tell them what to think or agree with their sentiments. I feel like that’s the role bloggers will play.


One Response to “Shirky’s Guide to the Media Universe”

  1. Amanda Emme said

    I’m one who’s definately weirded out about the role the internet plays in our lives today but it’s obviously a huge phenomena. It has changed so much so quickly and I think that’s why there’s so much disbelief about/hesitance to accept it’s significance.

    Also because there’s such an abundance of crap mixed in with the important/helpful/informative stuff out there, it’s hard to think of the internet as a whole as a primary source of information (for me, anyway).

    If I weren’t in school I don’t know that I’d know how to filter out the good stuff from the bad nor would I know as well as I do how to go about finding certain information (as far as specific news sources or critical journals/articles).

    I agree with your idea about bloggers acting as a sort of translator or filter for news but how do you know who’s reliable and spouting false information if you’re not reading the actual news itself? Or are bloggers to be a sort of supplement?

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