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Analysis: The Rise Of Open Media 200

Media hotshots and junkies were breathing heavily last week after Salon and announced layoffs and had a near-death experience. These and other new media "setbacks" prompted some gleeful, almost poignant predictions that old media might return from the grave. Don't put any money on it. The media war of the future isn't between "old" and "new" media, already meaningless terms, but between Open and Closed media.

What's the future of media? What are all the rumblings about struggling online media?

Pundits and gossips and entrail-readers were asking one another (and me) these questions last week. It was a nervous few days, the jitters touched off by announcements of layoffs at Salon and NBC and and by the near death experience of the strange crime-news site APB, which dismissed its staff, then brought some back unpaid in an attempt to keep publishing.

Was all of this a watershed moment for new media? The ubiquitous analysts were warning that in the wake of the NASDAQ panic, money for new sites was drying up. Maybe old-time journalism could rebound, after all? Maybe these hordes or raucous digital pests would finally get their comeuppance, or even better, go away completely. Maybe the media universe would right itself.

Dream on. If there is a central idea that conventional media have willfully failed to grasp, it's that the future of information belongs to Open Media, even when AOL/Time-Warner gets its lawyers and lobbyists lined up. The meaningful distinction isn't old-versus-new, it's open-versus-closed.

What exactly characterizes the Open Media? Open Media sites embrace interactivity; they reflect ideas, commentary and information from a wide range of sources, especially their readers. They were shaped by the distributed architecture of the Net. Their agendas and political philosophies are rarely static, but continuously evolving, a gift of interactivity. Each reader becomes a highly-wired researcher and reporter, foraging for information. Stories can be reported originally, but most often stories are posted from other sources or posted and readers are given links. Links are a universal signature of an Open Media site, a way to use Net architecture to maximum advantage. Revenue comes from advertising or other sources, because the information itself is always -- always -- free.

Open Media are ascending all across the information spectrum. Closed Media -- newspapers, evening newscasts, even pay-per-use news websites -- have been in decline for years, facing aging audiences, shrinking revenues and marginalization by ferocious (and usually free) competitors. Open vs. Closed, shared vs. proprietary - these conflicting impulses have divided Net users for years, the Linux challenge to Microsoft being one of the more dramatic examples. Now that conflict is intensifying throughout media.

There was considerable if short-sighted rejoicing in old media offices with the spate of so-called "new media" problems. Conventional media has been battered for years now by new competing technologies like the Net, abandoned by younger consumers, struggling to re-define itself. There was more than a little glee in reports that new media was bleeding as well.

"For some people, online journalism is a path to interactive enlightenment and economic liberty," gloated the New York Times. "But to the puritans of the old media world, Web journalists are apostates who have confused liberty with license and whose delusional disregard for profit can only end in self-immolation. It was hard for the puritans not to act smug last week."

What an interesting statement. When exactly did "disregard for profit" become a journalistic liability as opposed to an ethical standard? And who conferred on mainstream journalism -- as greedy, non-interactive, incestuous and elitist an institution as exists in American public life -- this high moral ground?

The reasons for the smugness extended beyond the layoffs. Media watchers also cited's struggles to become viable (it's massively subsidized by Microsoft and promoted on MS sites from to MSNBC, and is still struggling for audience) and they were obsessively monitoring the super-hyped launch of, a mega-media gossip and news site from a company that actually calls itself "PowerfulMedia, Inc."

You can check out this lavishly-funded site for yourself (, but all you really need to know is that its readers get to vote on what considers most critical; the daily media "Power Index," which tracks whether Sumner Redstone of Viacom is gaining on Michael Eisner or Ted Turner on any given day. Part of is free, but that's a lure. The part with the supposed original reporting is subscriber-only. This anomaly -- charging money in an environment where the volume of information grows by the hour and the price steadily drops -- is both arrogant and astonishing.

What was most interesting about last week's New York Times sneer was its focus on the rather few Web sites familiar to journalists. With perspective-narrowing narcissism, the Times described Slate as "the online magazine with probably the highest profile in online journalism?"

Slate - interesting though it can sometimes be - is actually one of the lowest profile sites on the Internet - except for New York or Washington journalists. They tend not to notice mailing lists, messaging systems or the countless individual sites far from media consciousness. Thus when Slate or Salon hits trouble, media pundits instantly conclude that online journalism must be failing. That's a big mistake.

"So who's winning?" asked the Times, "the puritans or the apostates? It may be too soon to tell, but certainly last week's upheavals were enough to try a Web journalist's soul." This bizarre framing of the issue -- a win/lose battle between worthy traditionalists and whacked-out rebels -- is silly, but it helps explain conventional journalism's problems in coming to terms with its favorite story: itself.

Mainstream media are fascinated with themselves. No story is more interesting than the people who publish or broadcast it. The press can't stop writing about itself, launching whole new publications -- Brill's Content magazine,, much of Slate -- to chronicle its heroes, power-brokers and adventures. The media have a bizarre and shrinking geography in the 21st Century, despite the fact that we are all in the midst of an explosive information revolution. They pay rapt attention to certain aspects of life in Washington, New York and Los Angeles. No place between gets much attention unless a terrorist blows up a building, a plane crashes,or a river floods its banks. If you gather information on the Net, of course, your experience couldn't be more different, since you're connected to new kinds of journalists located in all sorts of places - college campuses, the bowels of companies and governments (as opposed to the executive suites), private homes in "flyover" land, foreign countries, hi-tech environments. The agenda is stunningly different. And there isn't much interest in the people who run media or their daily power standings.

How did the traditional media, once a populist, working-class information medium, fall so totally, even suicidally, in love with themselves? Or waste so much money and time chronicling their own comings and goings while missing so completely the real economic and cultural boundaries emerging between old and new forms of information distribution? Sometimes it seems that the real competition isn't between purists and renegades but between Narcissistic (and thus Closed) versus Open Media.

This narcissism is harmful because it shrinks the creative universe of media workers and disconnects them from the new global conversation taking place online. Open Media operate in striking contrast, thanks in part to the distributed architecture that makes up the Net's infrastructure. Instead of handfuls of editors closeted in offices dictating agendas, successful online media tend to be highly interactive, informal, diverse, often amateurish, yet quick, newsy and, therefore, useful.

Open Media can't claim anything close to perfection. These sites are often hostile, chaotic, and unreliable. But they're open in the most literal sense -- online, anybody with a computer and a modem can be a journalist and use the open protocols of the Net. In the techworld, people bring one another news, links, URL's, and information obsessvively -- the most basic definition of a journalist and of journalism -- and in a never-ending stream.

The architecture of the Net -- designed mostly for research -- was designed to be open. The architecture of conventional media, designed mostly to sell information, has been closed for generations. This has caused the widening rift between the two cultures that plagues the so-called "traditionalists" to this day.

When journalism comes online, the first mistake most editors and producers invariably make is to replicate the closed forms they know -- as Slate did when it tried to charge customers to subscribe. One of the first Web sites run by mainstream journalists -- its editor is Michael Kinsley, former editor of The New Republic, Slate became synonymous in many traditionalist's minds with Web journalism. It was the first and only site many reporters visted regularly, then and now. And the fact that it didn't have to break even or attract large numbers of readers -- Bill Gates made it clear that Slate had years, if not forever, to succeed financially -- gave it further license to practice traditional journalistic values rather than confront the Net's raucous interactivity. Slate never really had to come to terms with the Net -- it had a gazillion dollar safety net anyway. As a result, the magazine has always had a sort of grafted-on quality to it, although it has grudgingly become more inter-active.

Open Media have thrived on very different principles -- they offer decentralized, digitally-empowered media populism. Why are the conventional media so hobbled with it comes to grasping this?

Until the l960's, journalism was a distinctly unglamorous profession, a working-class, blue-collar alternative to civil service jobs or manual labor. But as the Boomers went off to college in increasing numbers, and encountered social struggles like the anti-Vietnam and civil rights movements, journalism began attracting a different sort of practitioner. It became a more elite profession. People who go to Harvard and Yale tend to believe that what they're doing is important, at least in part because they're doing it. Being a journalist, producer or magazine editor was suddenly fashionable.

And as information became a valuable commodity and entertainment a global, multi-billion dollar industry, media executives became more visible and powerful. The media industry itself became a huge story, especially as entertainment, news, information and popular culture began overlapping. Conventional media coverage of pop culture is either tepid, or still ghetto-ized in the back sections of magazines and papers. Landmark evolutions in new media culture -- gaming and animation, for example -- aren't yet considered culture at all in the traditional press.

Journalism has paid dearly for this endemic myopia. Many of the smartest, best-educated reporters in America seemed not to notice that an information revolution was bearing down on them like a tidal wave.

Even as the net spawned thousands of new kinds of sites -- including this one, started not coincidentally far from coastal media encampments -- the traditional press continued its focus on itself. Successful new media sites seemed more likely to spring up in places like Holland, Mich., or Portland, Ore., than in New York, L.A. or Washington. Rather than embrace new technologies, much of media began sounding alarms about them, from pornography to addiction. On the Net, Open media offered sites, reporters and commentary drawn from increasingly far-flung sources on an ever-widening variety of topics.

Closed media have at best only a vague sense of this transformations.

In a medium where amateur news and information sites routinely draw hundreds of thousands of hits a day, Slate was unable to get more than a relative handful of people to pay a modest subscription fee despite the movement of tens of millions of people online, and sooned abandoned the idea of charging readers. In fact, many "old media" sites on the Web, from Slate to, remain subsidized media, a luxury rarely afforded new or Open Media. If Microsoft hadn't been so generous and rich, Slate would have folded long ago. In any other context, in fact, it would be considered a disaster. In the surreal world of media narcissism, it's failure somehow becomes virtue, even a triumph.

Salon, also founded by conventional journalists (in this case mostly from San Francisco) was always livelier and more Net-savvy than Slate, and is a different, more complex story. From the first, Salon established itself as a digital bastion of culture and literacy, which also understood interactivity. As good as the site can be -- its technology coverage is often outstanding -- one gets the sense that it has failed to grow creatively. The magazine seems stuck, almost marginalized, long on attitude but short on new ideas. Selling criticism, cultural and political commentary and point-of-view in a medium driven by cheap and plentiful information is rough.

That doesn't mean that Salon won't survive, or even prosper, despite the recent layoffs, but that it may have to reinvent itself. In media, this often seems the hardest thing for pulications to do, online or off.

Now, as those sites seem more and more like early prospectors overrun by a Gold Rush, there is no more meaningful distinction between "old" and "new" media. Almost every major paper, magazine and TV network has a Web site, and their reporters and producers continually cross-over frome one form to the other, as do their consumers.

On the Internet, there is no workable definition of what a journalist is. That's a good thing. Anybody who sees him- or herself as a journalist becomes one, which is the way it ought to be and, in fact, used to be. The kind of press conceived by Jefferson and Paine had much more in common with the present-day Internet than with the corporatized behemoths dominating the mainstream media. The press was always meant to be open, "point-to-point" in the Net sense, individualistic and outspoken. Journalism was never meant to be an exclusive elite, and the Net has re-democratized it. Online journalism may be adolescent and chaotic, but it is freer, more diverse and participatory than its offline predecessors. And a hell of a lot more fun and interesting.

Thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands, of people write and gather information on Web pages, sites, Weblogs, mailing lists and messaging systems. They post stories, start topics, engage in discussions and debates. By New York Times standards, they don't count as journalists. But they are the personification of the new journalism, and of its rebirth. The fact that they are practicing journalism in the most literal sense is precisely what's causing problems for the conventional media -- online or off -- still organized around outdated and nonsensical models of information dispensing.

These amateur journalists offer information on everything: weather, quilting, sports, movies, music, politics, and, of course, technology itself -- the seminal story online. Sometimes their coverage is brilliant, sometimes dreadful, just like old-style journalism. One Slashdot editor e-mailed me a list of just a few of the sites he visits regularly for news about software. These sites are bad news for traditional media practitioners -- newsy, teeming, useful, vibrant, telling examples of the ferociously interactive, information-stuffed open media mushrooming all over the Web. [His sites:;;;;;].

On such Open Media sites -- there are thousands devoted to diverse topics ranging from teen women ( to sports topics to music, TV, movies, consumerism, books, politics and Star Wars. Readers spot and suggest and link to stories continuously. Information moves in several directions -- top-down, laterally, and bottom-up. Readers have access to the reporters and editorial figures on the Web site. Through story ideas and discussion forums they have a say in how the site operates. And they are truly heard -- no Open Media site would last long otherwise -- in opposition to the pretend interactivity of Closed Media ("E-mail Peter Jennings. He wants to hear from you!")

Open Source is, of course, different, a technical term that applies to the sharing of software, not to media or culture. But it has far-reaching implications that go beyond code. OS was a significant, prescient idea. Like Dorothy in the final moments of the "Wizard Of Oz," OS pulled back the curtain on the biggest story in the world - the rise of computing technology, which is making information cheaper and more available by the hour. And transforming media.

Any successful media site of the future has to begin with that understanding, since it affects news consumers so directly. People in significant numbers won't pay for access to general news sites that charge for information. Nor should they have to. They will, however, regularly visit sites that organize some of the vast amounts of information now available online. And they especially value the opportunity to contribute -- to comment on articles, posts and features, and to contribute links, ideas and pieces of their own.

The media are dramatically affected by (and quite vulernable to) the wave of openness, much of it architectural rather than political, which OS helped fan. Open Media are not only the wave of the future, but the hot information commodity of the present. Open media are the only media that can thrive in the 21st Century, that can connect with young consumers, incorporate new information technologies, draw large numbers and make money in the Digital Age. Unlike traditional media, they don't have to adapt to the Net. They literally grew out of it.

Open Media sites grasp that online, news is organic, continuous, participatory. Open Media editors can be plenty autocratic, and they make lots of decisions. But they make more of those decisions in the open, and readers are taken much more genuinely into account.

Open Media aren't uninterested in profit - quite the opposite. Their advocates, understanding how new technologies operate, have simply perceived a radically different priniple with which to make money - by sharing information rather than controlling it.

Proprietary sites on the Net have particular problems with this idea. As Slate learned early on, and as will learn soon enough, it's difficult to charge money in an environment awash in timely information available for free. Closed media -- online or on paper or on cable or on the airwaves -- try to set agendas rather than permit agendas to be set by others. They don't trust their consumers to really participate, and aren't willing to share the power such an ethic requires. Instead they project an outdated image: a formal, rigid environment occupied by people holed up in offices, preoccupied with increasingly irrelevant formats.

Like The New York Times, they don't seem to grasp that the very definitions of media are really changing. Until last year (when she tired of the workload), a housewife in Akron created a free-coupon/quilting Web site that drew more than a half-million visitors a day.

In the 21st century, Closed Media can't compete either economically or creatively with the vibrant culture of open information sites. When a handful of editorial instincts compete head-on with tens or hundreds of thousands of editorial instincts, the rabble may just win every time.

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The Rise of Open Media

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Can a human being actually write this bad? Is he a Slashdot Perl script?

    We want to know.

    thank you.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Dude, it's long as hell and most of us are at work, give us a while to read it. :)
  • From now on can we have a 'Katz Bashing Thread' in all of John's posts so I don't have to read through 100 posts of meaningless off-topic dribble to find somebody saying something about the damn article? The number of anti-Katz posts in the this story outnumber the ones about the content of the article by at least 5 to 1. If you don't like Katz, filter him out or don't read the freakin article! It's not that difficult. I for one like to hear many different opinions and don't want to have to wade through 10 pages of 'Katz sucks' or 'Katz is a hypocrite' or 'Another Katz article too long for me to read so I'll just complain about it being too long' blah blah blah blah. From now on, just stick your Katz bashing in one thread that those of us who want to read and post interesting stuff can ignore it more easily. Or better yet, if you don't like him personally, don't read his stuff!

    And fellow moderators, please use the Offtopic setting like it's supposed to be used and get rid of stuff that isn't relevant to the article.
  • You can get a computer and internet access for less than the cost of a TV and cable and I know many, many people who are supposedly living from paycheck to paycheck who have cable and a TV (and quite a few of them play Bingo every week too). It's a falacy to think anymore that if you want a computer, you can't get one. There are too many free deals around or cheapo computer with free net access. The problem is educating people to that fact and getting them to give up something like cable or $20 a week in lottery tickets (a _very_ common occurence).
  • So on an Open Media site, the news flows from altruistic visitors, much as comments and stories flow here? Where does the news come from in the first place? 99% of the news here contains a link to another site, more often than not a "Closed Media" site like NYT.

    Katz seems to believe that news is there for the taking, as ubiquitous as web pages. He's ignoring the actual process of obtaining news from the real world, which is where it happens; this is as different from finding web pages and submitting them as talking about cars is from actually building one. There's a reason "journalism" is a profession, not a hobby.

    [insert IANAReporter disclaimer here]

  • Posted by 11223:

    Did you read the Time collumn about the Salon layoffs? He/she/it (at work, don't have the issue of Time) talked about how the Salon people were only layed off for failing to attract enough eyeballs. Is that the future of this new media? Will slashdot sites be the same way? (You didn't get enough comments, therefore you get the boot?) No thanks, I'll take my hard-copy of Time anyway.
  • Posted by 11223:

    No, Slash is also tweaked to generate banner views. For instance, if you're not logged in (or just created a new account), you view in threaded, which means you have to click to view comments, insuring the maximum possible ad-views. The /. eidtors aren't dumb. They don't take the ad-gluttony to the max, but they sure now how to tweak a little bit.
  • Posted by 11223:

    I don't think so. Bandwidth is expensive. Ratings were never part of the hard-copy media model, which to a certain extent the closed-media model is a copy of. But the 'net throws a twist into it either way. Open or closed, on the net, the Salon layoffs (which you made reference to, and I was trying to address) were part of an inherent flaw of the medium - that the number of eyeballs can be judged, and the medium can be turned into a TV.

    To tie this in, I think the Open Media model is a recipie for disaster. Bandwidth is expensive. Advertising is needed. Soon, sites only posts stories that generate alot of interest. (Notice how the front page of slashdot is decidedly biased towards Linux. The editors aren't stupid - they know that they generate readings of the articles - and thus ad eyeballs by Linux articles). It stays "open", but it defeats the purpose.

    You claimed that the Open Media model leads to links of all kinds of information. But that ain't so, because the ad-eyeball-phenomenon (as witnessed by the Salon layoffs) is a big problem. You end up catering to specific types of articles that generate the most interest from people, instead of covering it all. I think mixing content coverage and Open vs. Closed is mixing issues, myself.

    But of course, I could be very wrong. (Thanks for replying to the comments. You seem to be more interactive lately, and it helps!)

  • CNN's audience share problems have been extremely well publicized.

    Where's another Gulf War when you need one?
  • Actually... I think what Jon was trying to say is that the open media responds to the whims of the readers...

    Heh... and not by just sacking journalists ;)


    What I mean, is an open news article is open to online debate at the source of the article.

    If you don't agree with the author.. Say it.

    If your point is valid... or just sounds good... depending on the system (and perhaps how good it is... slashdot of course being particularly advanced :) ) then it floats to the top

    gems among the crap and all that stuff :)

    Of course... you try this with a close media article...

    say a small article about japanese uranium mishaps...

    You have to send a letter to the editor.. and perhaps on his whim he'll put it in a small box somewhere... or just throw it in a bin so he can make room for an advert.. of course if he does put it in, then it goes in 2 months later...

    And no one has clue what the original article was about!

    The open media... you say it. It gets seen, and frozen for all time as part of the article...

    So open articles are not finished when they are 'uploaded'...

    Just like this article was more an introduction to the following comments!

    Live Long & Prosper \\//_
    CYA STUX =`B^) 'da Captain,
  • I've looked over a recent Slash code, and there are a few snippets referring to a JKatz object. For example:

    JKatz::GeneratePost("Linux=1,Apple=0,Microsoft=-1, BSD=0,Slashdot=1");

    From further analysis, I was able to deduce that to generate an article, you have to call the object with similar parameters. The values that have a 1 next to them will be shown in a positive light, and you get the rest. However, I wasn't able to find the actual code for the object. It seems that Rob has tried to remove all traces of it from Slash, and only a few snippets remained.

    (I don't really hate Jon Katz. In fact, I enjoy a lot of his articles. Oh yeah, and I'm not very good with Perl, so the code above may not be syntactically correct.)


  • should have gone running rather than pretending to have read the piece. Is e-fibbing a sin?

  • ...i'm pretty fond of this one. And I didn't write the Hellmouth series alas, a lot of kids around the country did. Still scrolling for one sign anybody's actually read the column..This one didn't, for sure.
  • I think it's really importiant to have both open media and open source. I'm one of the webmasters behind [] and we're working on building a new paradigm for news. One that is open and democratic, build on open publishing models and open source software [].

    That said the problems of a new open news media are very real. How do you organize all this content. What's worth promoting and what isn't? We've talked about building a slashdot type moderation system that molds and shapes how articles get listed. Kinda like a cross between kuro5hin's [] article moderation and slashdot's comment system.

    One thing we've realized is that some people involved in the Independent Media Centers are trained journalists and some are less professional. You can really can tell the difference. Journalists will call up people for quotes, attempt to check their facts, writes in the second or third person, etc...

    One of the things that has worked best at the IMC has been our comment system. We have an open publishing model, and when people post incorrect information it is quickly countered by somebody reading the site.

    I think this kind of structured colloborative news is what makes a news site exist well within the internet as a medium. Much like the early TV broadcasts were just radio announcers on camra, most early news sites are just print or tv news jammed in to the new medium. Slashdot, kuro5hin, indymedia, and many others are starting to move forward in exploring how this new medium can really be used.

    It's interesting that this push is coming not from journalists but geeks and the open source movement. It represents a potential major shift in power in who gets a say and control over this new medium. Take indymedia for an example, some of our tech collective members have worked on major commercial news sites, but because of the structure of those organizations we were only able to really use the medium in this seperate confrontational project. That the people who used to be minnions in the old world are taking power and shifting the terms of the public debate should scare the existing power structure as much as any molotov cocktail.

  • He usually has something worthwhile to say but his style makes it so hard to take in...
  • A specific criticism of the article. It gives people too much credit. People hate to apply their critical thinking skills too liberally. Open media has a lack of obvious trust, this requires a larger investment of critical thinking skills on the part of the reader/viewer. People don't often like to do that.

    Think about all the people who take anything MacOSRumors says as gospel on the Apple platform. Think about all those people who heard about the stock market, but didn't bother to figure out how it worked. The same people who felt that reading the company website was the same as research.

    Siteing technical sites as proof of a new "Open Media" is misleading. Its like going to a medical convention and using the numbers as proof that people are starting to care more about medicine. Try finding unbiases general news sites. I hope you have better luck than I did, because I didn't find any. Any site I found is so skewed in one direction or another that it is nearly worthless. THIS is the face of the new "Open Media". However two biased opinions don't make an objective viewpoint.

    You give "the public" too much credit. It isn't an accident that most of the web traffic is concentrated on only a few sites. It isn't an accident that people stay with AOL. The majority of people like being on-line because it allows them to make choices that TV doesn't. But making choices does not imply critical thinking. You only have to look at election results to see the truth of that.

    The new "Open Media" will mean a wealth of biased information which is only useful to those who wish to apply their critical thinking skills on a daily basis and in a wide range. This used to describe the general Internet population until about 1995, but it no longer applies. The rest of the Internet population either just doesn't care enough to read the news, or go to sites that provide an orgy of gratification for their previously held viewpoints.
  • Maybe, but they don't call it the NYTimes effect. I can't tell about profit/loss, but I know which sites I visit.
    Of course, my homepage is LinuxToday, which is more nearly a "closed source" site. And I don't feel Technocrat ever really took off. On my system it was slower than Slashdot, which may be the reason. Still, there are similar sites popping up in several places now. ApacheToday, BottomQuark, ... The number seems to be increasing. Perhaps they are all owned by the same company? If so, it must think they are a good investment.
  • I didn't buy my home system to browse the net. I wouldn't have. Having the system, I can browse the net. I think that a computer system now is relatively a lot cheaper than an encyclopedia was while I was growing up. But we always had one in the house, even when we didn't bother affording a TV. I know people on welfare who have computers. Several years old, but they work. Since computers have such little resale value, many people give away their old ones if they know anybody who want it. Our company donates old computers to non-profit organizations to recycle.

    Now, of course, you did say "decent", which depends on developed expectations, and these systems probably wouldn't meet your standards (they don't meet mine, that's why I replaced them). But people who haven't used computers don't yet have those standards. And older machines are frequently less flakey (the flakey ones are thrown away rather than donated).
  • Ah, The Register, forgot about them. There's a counter-example. :)

    The point I was making was that Closed media has its good points, points that will ensure its survival. I guess their biggest asset, now, is the size of the profit they make, allowing them to put out a quality product, which makes them more money, etc. I'm sure if enough people were willing to subscribe to The Register as a pay site, The Register could hire better writers, editors, columnists, etc.

    The whole Closed vs. Open media debate seems abitratory, though. I don't see much different between Salon and Slashdot, for example, except Salon hires more writers and columnists than Slashdot, and, thus, covers a wider range of topics.

    George Lee

  • that "closed" media tend to hire better column writers, have better distrubition channels, better access to people involved in the news (through on spot reporting and interviews), better overall professionalism, etc., and, IMHO, produce a better quality product that I'm willing to *buy*. Capitalism at work. The reason online "closed" media has been taking hits is the cost of producing content is more that the profits made off of them. Pure capitalism.

    "Open" media tends more to consolidate stories from various sources into one place; "Closed" media either writes its own stories or get them off the AP. (I suspect it's cheaper to post stories from other sites and have readers submit their own stories than hiring professionals to write orginal stories.) I'll go to to find out news about Mac software, but I'll read the Wall Street Journal to find out how Apple the company is doing.

    (BTW, why didn't Jon just come out and say "./ r001z. 51@73 5uX."?)

    George Lee

  • The vast majority of the population remains lazy and passive about their news sources. If you think that Average American/Human Person will get off the couch, go to his box, and research news that interests him, you're sadly mistaken.

    People like to have things come to them. Would you rather walk down the street and buy a pizza, or have it delivered? Easy answer. This is why CNN, MSNBC, and newspapers remain in the forefront of the media. They deliver news how and where the viewers want it: in short (Attention span? what's that?) soundbites, directly to the MediaViewer's door/TV/eyes.

    Even though many people do read /. and other "Open" media sites, they don't all participate, so it's not truly democratic. Open Media(what a silly term) will keep going, for sure, but until the populace puts in effort, it won't overtake the big, pushed media that has persisted for decades.

  • by mezzo ( 20109 )
    People who go to Harvard and Yale tend to believe that what they're doing is important, at least in part because they're doing it.

    And people from other schools don't? Look at your own article, you are basically trying to say how good and important your own work is.
  • iOpener, $100. This is the price of what 6 hits of crack?

    iOpener service, $20/mo. You can go without your crack just once, can't you?

    It may be hard to get a phone line in a crate though..

  • those both point to user 7654.

    That is a curious number...

    Slashdot is not unix.

  • You better check you figures. The share of tax money supporting most stations is under 25% and falling. The stations fund NPR through fees for programs.
  • This project needs some work more work on it -

    slashcode is running and the plan is a international non-sectarian left wing discussion web site.
  • I don't think that journalism SHOULD provide an opinion. I just think that in almost all cases, that is actually what you get. What you want and what you get are not always the same.

    Since there are no objective sources of news really, I try to choose a wider range of sources and then base my thoughts on the whole.
  • Ok, so maybe this was not the best article Katz wrote, but does he really deserve the critizism that he is getting? (When I browsed at +3 all I got was flame)

    Really people, if you don't like what he writes, then click here [] and turn him off! Please try to be a bit kinder, I know I would not keep coming back to a crowd that heckled me every time I said something.


    (Score -1, defended Katz)
  • Okay fellow /.-ers, I think we need to step back and gain a bit of perspective here... entering rant mode. (moderate down as flame-bate or inciteful, as you see fit.)

    First of all, Jon is a journalist by trade -- he sees things through the tinted glasses of a journalist. As a journalist and free-lance author, he has to have a habit of being a bit winded. To blame Jon for being winded would be comprable to blaming one of us when we go off about how this latest technology is so cool because of ___...

    I like Jon's work, even though it's a bit long quite a bit of the time. My thoughts are, if you don't like Jon's style, then you probably ought save yourself the time and effort of reading the articles. The second part of not reading Jon's work is, don't post unless you've got something incitful to say. Generally speaking Jon's articles are written to pormote constructive communication between people with like minds that wouldn't otherwise have occasion to communicate. That being said, I think the bitching and moaning over Jon's articles are a complete waste of space. (I'm eager to see who will follow this with a, "You're a complete waste of space you trashy ass-fucker!")

    ...and I'm spent.

  • Well, I'm all sorts of confused now... I still don't think any of these are actually Jon Katz. Either way, I should have kept my mouth shut. The whole thing is just too entertaining, true or not. Although if it is actually Katz, someone must write his articles for him. Rather different style.

    But either way, I decided to check out what I was shooting my mouth off about after doing so (of course), and am prepared to retract my "jonkatz != JonKatz" statement and replace it with another completely unsubstantiated equation:

    JonKatz the author != jonkatz the poster

    Thank you.

  • Very strange... I guess Katz has finally come down from the podium to fight flame with flame. So now instead of sounding like a moron, he sounds like a bitter, whiny moron. Although it's all nice and stuff for him to respond to some of the Katz-baiting he gets constantly, I'd hoped it would be something more intelligent than, "You didn't read my article. Stop talking to me." But I guess that's the best way to respond to posts that start, "I read the first paragraph, and you suck so much that..." As I was reading his posts, though, they just looked so much like well-done trolls, and given the proliferation of imposters around here, I figured I'd be careful.
  • I hate to be a party pooper and ruin these wonderful trolls, but those of you here with *nix experience may be familiar with case-sensitivity.

    jonkatz != JonKatz

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Stories can be reported originally, but most often stories are posted from other sources or posted and readers are given links.

    Katz, What you describe as "open Media" is slashdot. And it has it's place. But /. reports almost exactly zero original news stories. What of Reuters and the AP and the other 'closed' media outlets that do such a good job of gathering and distributing news? What would /. have to report if they didn't exist? Not nothing, certainly, but there would be much less easily-available info to report.

    As usual, your post is over-dramatized.


  • Think of it in a musical context. New media isn't about being better at bringing you the spice girls, it is about making it equally easy for you to find Lithuanian polka music or Noise or abstract serialism- things which are not 'covered' in the mainstream. By the same token, New Media isn't about covering mainstream news better/faster/deeper than the mainstream media- it is about providing access to news that would never be seen elsewhere, in comparable depth. The whole point of New Media is that on the net, you can get to anywhere with relative ease, so given the access to the information people do seek out their specialised interests, and no matter how specialised the interest, it's possible to have a network around it, news, a community. That wasn't possible in the heyday of Old Media, because the mechanisms for conveying media didn't allow for that kind of proliferation of meaning- there had to be a screening process and things had to suit a lowest common denominator. No longer.
  • That option is available to you, if you care to take advantage of it. You can go into your preferences and deselect the Jon Katz category, and you'll not see any more articles written by him.

    If you choose not to do that, then it just shows that you're more interested in bitching about his writing than avoiding it, all your claims to the contrary.

    If you don't like it, don't read it. Nobody's forcing you to.


  • Why he insists on preaching to the choir like this is beyond me..

    Did you ask him?

    Personally, I think he's trying the articles out here before he sends them on to a more mainstream publication. If he gets feedback which makes for a better article, then when he submits it to Rolling Stone or some other old-style media outlet that gets more attention, it has more impact there. (Of course, if he's not sending the articles, then I'm blowing hot air. I haven't asked him either.)


  • Writes Jon Katz:

    "Mainstream media are fascinated with themselves."

    And let me see, this daming criticism comes in the middle of an article that is part (we assume) of Jon's much heralded 'Open Media', and which - oh gosh and golly - does no more than spout on endlessly about how important and wonderful 'Open Media' is.

    So - fair to say that even non-mainstream media is fascinated with itself, eh? In fact, I would have to say that Jon Katz spends rather alot of time talking about Old Media, New Media, Slashdot, Himself, etc etc. I'd say a case of leopards not changing spots.

  • Does anyone else find it intriguing that "Closed" is defined in this article as Newspapers, Broadcast news, and pay-per-use News sites? If the intent was to draw a parallel to OpenSource/closed source in news media, this article fails badly.

    What makes an OpenSource project bear that name has largely to do with allowing public contribution to the project -- thus, a more accurate defintion of Closed Media would include free sites that do not publish public comments (aside from letters to the editor). Since this covers even most "new" media, most of the points in this article become moot.

    Besides, this seems like a sad attempt by the author to gain favor with Slashdot readers. As an earlier poster said (I paraphrase) - 'Gee, a Slashdot columnist says Slashdot is the best.' This would be like Nintendo publishing an article by one of thier engineers saying "the N64 is better than any other console." Regardless of wether that statement is accurate or not, it would come as no surprise, considering the source, and would probably be categorically ignored.

    I bet if you asked your local newspaper editor which form of news media was the best (on record), [s]he'd plug his/her own media...

    Besides, Slashdot is not exactly a News site, per se -- rather, it is an editorial site. The editors choose which stories (which come mostly from news media) to publish, and often contribute thier own opinions right on the front page. Readers are then allowed to make editorial comments as well. Yet another reason this article is moot.


  • I'm a regular reader of Slashdot, and not a regular one of Kuro5hin, but wouldn't Slashdot still be considered Closed Media, because the articles are still posted by a select few? Sure, we can comment on them, and once in a while the Slashdot editors will even listen, but the main page is still largely dependent on that closed few.

    OTOH, Kuro5hin is pretty much 100% user-maintained. The site's owner only has to write and tweak the scripts, and the rest is handled by the users. This is what I consider Open Media to be. What differentiates Slashdot from ZDNet anyway? The average IQ of the readers, and the way the scripts are designed. (Slash is designed to be more-or-less comfortable to use, while ZDNet was designed to generate banner views.)


  • is a self-parody as opposed to a complete parody. Does anybody here actually have any specific comments about the article, or are we doing to dance all day?

  • ..smoke as much crack as Katz? Money. Note that this far into the topic, there still isn't one comment that would even remotely suggest anybody has read the column or has a specific criticism of it. Or even an intelligent thought about it..I'm always struck at how much time these people have to pretend that they've read things.

  • Topics like this one are a good example of why /.s threads are so often a laughingstock all over the Web. If you look at the length of the column and time of posts, it's obvious people post without reading...I know this is a Troll characteristic, and that they think they're showing tude. But there are actually lots of people online who come just to laugh at posts like this..Sad, sort of, and requiring a sort of warped sense of humor.
    Still seeking a specific comment, criticism or sign of actually reading and/or comprehension. Coming via e-mail, as usual, and perhaps later...
  • by JonKatz ( 7654 )

    Am I missing something here? I'm a hypocrite for commenting on a story in Time, but you are not for reading it? Troll logic? I'm going to come on Threads more from now on in the hopes of encountering an actual reader..doesn't look promising though, but I'll stay with it..

  • Finally, somebody who actually read the column and posted an intelligent thought about it..Here we go, maybe even to the point of having an intelligent discussion (we can dream) A miracle..Thanks, dude. I think the pundit point is interesting. I think pundits have completely lost their power in traditional media and there really aren't any pundits on the Web. It's just not possible to dominate discussions that way.

  • You're mixing two different issues. The corporate media model reduces workforces over ratings. That's not a new or open media model. Salon ambitiously expanded to try and be a major commercial media player. It overextended. Most open media don't make that kind of investment in staff and resources. They link to informed from all sorts of sites, closed and open.
    (do I have to sign off three times?) THanks, thanks, thanks.

  • This is sort of the point, though..Open Media takes info from lots of new sources (traditional media included). The NYTimes isn't interested in posting your comments. Slashdot, bless it's heart is committed to giving teens a release for their violent impulses. This probably saves lots of windows.
    But it isn't a matter of altruism. On the Net, the news is there for the taking, for better or worse. That's what makes old info distribution models so difficult. And makes competitition so challenging. Anybody here can take this column and have their way with it..It is already, in fact, being linked all over the place, judging by my e-mail. So it is there for the taking.

  • As a former Baltimore newspaper editor, I sort of agree. On the Net ivory towers don't last long either, one of the things I like about it.

  • No, that's a silly argument, I think. Slashdot was successful before Andover bought it, which is WHY Andover bought it. Open Media isn't more virtuous than closed, just more timely and successful. Both mean to make money. But I'm not into the Andover/Slashdot paranoia thread, though it's a perfectly legitimate line of discussion. I've worked for too many true corporate beasts.
    And I did define them, if you read the column. And at considerable length, according to some people here.

  • I think this is an interesting and important post. Media used to be tremendously passive..20 years ago, 94 per cent of all Americans sat and watched TV news in the evening. Now, 14 per cent do. They are forced into some interactivity..zappers, switchers, multi-channels, cable, the Net. I think most people do want to receive info passively, but the best open sites offer readers a number of options for participating. I think those will ultimately be successful. Certainly some passive sites will be as well. But media users have many choices and much new technology that requires choices to made..That mitigates against the total passivity of previous generations.

  • I see that many of you aren't aware that CNN and MSNBC are struggling mightily with tiny audiences and little revenue. They are not growing and prospering. They are in big trouble. I'm surprised so few people know this. If they wren't both owned and subsidized by behemoths with deep pockets, they be long gone. CNN has terrible problems when there isn't a huge story and MSNBC has never had much of a tv audience..a huge disappointment.

  • ...Must be cause it's from a Jersey person..

  • ...and I thank you for it.A perfect example of what I was writing about from somebody who actually read it. Can I send you a box of Twizzlers?

  • ..that people are posting inaccurate, self-righteous posts under their own names. If you read the comments of the choir, I don't see how you can argue that they are converted. And you are dead wrong. CNN, MSNBC and newspapers and magazines have very serious ratings and audience problems.Mainstream media audience's are aging an advertising markets are fragmenting. CNN's audience share problems have been extremely well publicized. Why would you make statements that are so demonstrably false as if you knew them to be true. These problems are widely known and discussed in the media industry and the media.
  • he forget to pay NIC?
    White House Cyberwar?
    Throw in the Towell?
  • currently failing DNS Lookup []
  • Even though these portal link-fest sites are great for a central point of news, they do not generate nearly enough CONTENT to keep themselves alive, they depend on these socalled closed sites for their content. I don't see how these sites can be critisized so, seeing as they are really the mothers of all of these 'news' sites.

    There is a symbiance there. 'open' sites need the 'closed' sites to write and research the stories the 'open' sites just do not have nearly the resources to do themselves. consumers need the 'open' sites for a singular place to get the news they want, for example, if I want geeky news I come to slashdot, if i want gaming news i go to shugashack, hardware i go to hardocp.

    Nonetheless this article shamlessly plugs that chickclickers site again, and nonetheless it rambles on about things that could have been condenced much more, saving on the world bandwidth.

    Normally even I've been nice to katz, I've let him off the hook long enough. the substance to this story is nearly nil. This has become a series of articles by katz that show little research in general. Before and around the hellmouth series I was impressed with the number of people he sited in his articles but this is getting sad.

  • Well, Jon, I find it ironic that you spend an entire article talking about "Open Media" while castigating the "Closed Media" for what? Talking about itself.

    And what would you call a site like Themestream [] that lets anybody post anything they want and then pays them a dime a hit (during its 'preview'; will probably drop to two cents a hit afterward) for it? Open, because anyone can write for it? Closed, because it pays them by the popularity of what they write?

    By and large, I think this article continues a trend I've already noted [] in your work of telling us what we already know. By and large, we're already net-savvy people, Jon. I think that many of the people who regularly bash you find your articles like this to be quite patronizing.

  • Indeed. I've had two full-fledged editorials published in my local paper, with by-line, photograph, and all. The more recent one, on Microsoft's culpability for the Love Bug (which I've posted the text of here []) was given about 1/3 of a page, and they added an editorial cartoon to it. Very nice; even my UPS carrier has told me he liked it.
  • I still read Jon Katz articles because, despite his inane habit of typing lower-case "L" for "1" and doing other crazy things (Hey, Jon! If you can't train yourself to hit that 1 key instead of that L key, at least do a search-and-replace to change "l9" to "19" before you submit the article, okay?), and oft-times blowing hot air, sometimes he actually has something worthwhile to say.

    However, it seems like those incidents have been coming less and less frequently lately, sad to say. Still, I can't help myself--his articles have that sort of viceral peeking-out-from-between-the-fingers-of-the-hands- over-your-eyes appeal of a hideous train wreck.

    And for that matter, when I do directly criticize his work, I try to do so at least partly constructively, instead of just chanting "Katz go home! Katz go home!"

  • by Zico ( 14255 )

    I'll admit right up front that I totally disagree with just about everything you write (I mean overall, not just this article). In general, I find it to be silly, pie in the sky, rah-rah cheerleading, and usually devoid of any self-criticsm whatsoever. Your writing seems like it goes out of its way to throw platitudes to whichever group you currently want to be part of, maybe in hopes that you'll end up as their patron scribe or something. But.

    I still sometimes read the articles, but you need to realize that you're asking a lot of your readers by foisting these unedited pieces on us. They drag out sometimes because there's no focus, and when there is a focus, they drag out anyway because you keep repeating the same thing over and over. You know good and well that the mags that you've written for wouldn't take an article like this, so why do we have to suffer through it. Just get a friend to run over your columns, or maybe hire a college intern on the cheap. If you're going to chastize people for making judgments without reading your entire articles, you need to do your part, too, and make it less of a chore.


  • Library access is generally slow and crowded, but it is free to anyone who walks in (at least in the libraries I've been in).
  • I don't see how you can say /. does not provide original content at all - many many times in /. stories I have learned interesting aspects to stories that would never have come up if I'd read the story just on or CNN.

    As for objectivity, I think that's almost always something the reader has to provide for himself - weither reading /. or CNN. In many ways I prefer a heavily biased source like many "Open Media" outlets over something biases in subtle ways at a place like CNN.

    And personally, if I want useful information on just about anything (finance included) a site like CNN is the last place I'd go - I still use newsgroups, interesting web sites, and a lot of input from many different people.

    In effect, I would trust the input of 100 financially oriented Signal11's over one place like CNN. If there were a place like /. for financial matters, I'd use that in a heartbeat.
  • It has to be difficult for Katz not to write one of these every few days. A gush about /. (and a slam on slate)

    As a quick aside, I think I've visited slate maybe twice in 6 years of surfing. It sucks, like banner ads suck. A first idea that turned out to be way wrong.

    One issue he doesn't really go into (too busy blowing the /. collective) is about original content. This site does commentary great, but even the original content produced here is all commentary. Meta-news, if you will.

    Another issue that has been ignored is the activist element and freedom that comes from this style of news gathering. One is much more likely to hold an extreme opinion if one sees others who do the same. You don't get extreme opinions from networks news, you can't avoid them here. Personally, I think that is a VERY good thing.

    The old media laughing at a couple on-line failures is funny in and of itself. Mainly because there are hundreds of other sites that can pop up instantly to replace them. Competition is so fierce (and looks to be so for a while) that some who have made poor decisions, or gotten unlucky will fail, this is the sign of a healthy marketplace, IMHO.

    I guess that's enough for now. Like I said, it's a good read but misses some points and makes others redundantly.

  • The reduction in audience is hardly unique to news. When you had 3 networks, all of who were showing news programs at the same time, you didn't have much choice if you wanted to watch TV.

    Nowadays there are VCRs & movie rentals, Nintendo's, cable with dozens of speciality channels, and competition from FOX, UPN & WB networks, and with the obvious exception of cable news channels, none of these show news at all, and the big three's peak share has dropped from above 90% to under 60%. Peak means for the popular programs, the Seinfeld & Friends, not the news.

    This is why the final episode of MASH (airing in 1983) 106 million people watched, in 1993, 80.5 million people watched the final episode of Cheers , but the final episode of Seinfeld, in 1998, only mustered 76.3

    References: Primetime Forecast 1997-1998 []TBS Media group
    Why TV Networks Are Still Worth Buying [] Wall Street Journal

  • It's because we only read the good articles. And don't forget that 10,000 words of drivel is hardly a reason to continue on. I think the first 5 paragraphs would be sufficient for anyone to realize what a waste of time it would be to read on.

    In fact, let me save everyone the trouble. I worked all the way through it, don't bother.

    It's hard to post an intelligent response to such an unintelligent article.


  • Hey, I love it when my mom sends me clippings from Newsweek. The last one was a huge one on Napster. Of course, I already knew every word in there long ago, but I like to see how main stream media tries to cover the computer world (and quite slowly too).

    The reason I like it is because I know that the sheep are reading, and just might learn something, or atleast become aware of it.

    But why does this crap have to be published here? Go publish this crap in the old media world, where you might have a chance. We're not sheep, we're already a part of what's happening. We already know about it. I want a techie's perspective on it!! Know why? Because I'm one too, and there's a good chance that they'll explain something that I don't know about. And not only that, but they'll talk about the points that interest me too.

    ---These and other new media "setbacks" prompted some gleeful, almost poignant predictions that old media might return from the grave. Don't put any money on it--
    --What's the future of media? What are all the rumblings about struggling online media? --

    What a waste. Let's write 10 pages of nothing, hype it up with *big* words, and then ask rhetorical or meaningless questions. In fact, this whole style reminds me of the local newscasters here in Indiana that did their own pre-show for the Indiana Pacers in the NBA Finals:

    Idiot #1: Well Harv, what do we have to do to win this next big game?

    Idiot #2: First off, we have to score more in the first half, and then we should pump up our defense throughout the game.

    Idiot #1: Great idea. What about Shaq, well he be a factor today?

    Idiot #2: That's right Merv, the Pacers will really have to stop his game if they're going to have a change to bring it back to Los Angeles.

    (Continue on for another hour--ack!)


  • I can take a look at the local newspaper here, and many of the storys are straight from Knight-Ridder or AP. They are just reprinting it for me that I could otherwise sift through on and read myself. So there's only 5 different reporters that are getting worldwide coverage? Heh.

    If you look at most "hax0r" security related 'zines, you will find it's often reprinted news clippings that were already covered on Hackernews for the past 5 months.

    The one thing that slashdot adds to the "recycled news" is the ability to comment on it.
  • I agree, but what I am hearing more and more is that people are trusting less in these sources. They want information that is more/less the truth, or at least as close to the truth as possible. The amatuer sites provide this by a "man-in-the-street" perspective. We already make fun of CNN and similar source because their agendas are so transparent. The new model will develop agenda's over time, if they already haven't done so, however it tends to be more in line with the common man.
  • Web Economy Bullshit Generator []

    John S. Rhodes [] -- Industrial Strength Usability
  • If Open Media is supposed to reflect heavily on its readership, why are you still boring us to tears? Why are "Closed Media" institutions more reliable and trustworthy? There is no such thing as open/closed media -- every media source listens to its readership and the outside world, the only question is how much they do it. This is not new.

    Open Media or Open Mouth? You decide. Jon should try the former and give up the latter sometime. He has done work for any number of "narcissistic" "Closed Media" entities, including Rolling Stone and Wired, but now you have "seen the light" that this style of journalism is wrong.

    For a long time, newspapers and magazines have been "open". They're called LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, and are written by people who have taken the time to compose a note and drop a few cents on postage, rather than the knee-jerk reactions found so often in "Open Media". They pick the best, and print them -- even if your comments weren't published (ooh, you'd hate that, wouldn't you, Jon?), that doesn't mean you haven't contributed.

  • Open Media as Mr. Katz defines it cannot survive on its own. Although I appreciate sites like slashdot, and its ability to consolidate information from broad sources, without those other sources it cannot work.

    Original content.... this may not be where the money is, but it IS where the info is.

    If you removed every link to an external news source from slashdot, what would you have?

    Stories by Mr. Katz and thats about it.

    I don't mind his work, but I prefer some facts in my reporting. I read slashdot for the links. I don't want to go to 27 other news sources daily. Press Releases are not news... half the time they aren't even accurate or informative.

    The Associated Press has made most newspapers functionally Open. Most major headline stories are simply reworded AP text. The AP exists online... why don't we link to them?

    Becuase on slashdot, we don't want to read about Rwanda. We want to read about geek stuff. Targeted reporting is the domain of the Closed media syndicate.

    Thats the way it works. Thats the way it will work.


  • >The NYTimes isn't interested in posting your comments.

    Then why a "letters to the editor" section? They certainly post letters. Maybe not all (there are space requirements that /. doesn't have), but it's not like the NYT says "here's the news, nyah".

    >Slashdot, bless it's heart is committed to giving teens a release for their violent impulses. This probably saves lots of windows.

    What the heck does this mean? Here we (as a community) are, trying to get rid of the image of Quake-minded, hack-your-computer-even-when-it's-off, pimply, anti-social people, and you throw this comment in. How is ranting on /. different from writing a letter to the editor? How is blowing off steam on /. different from complaining to your friends? And how in the heck did this discussion turn from open/closed media into a bunch of kids breaking windows?
  • The article being a waste of your time is hardly specific. Saying it is noncommital isn't quite specific either. Calling it crap and insinuating croneyism is not only non-specific, it is childish.

    As for 'main-media source' (whatever the hell that means), this article was posted [] yesterday at The Freedom Forum Online [] the media component of a well respected centrist think-tank.

    Here's a specific comment: Mr. Katz, I think this piece is a bit to simple for the slashdot audience. I believe most of the readership here is already aware of the situation outlined in the article and have come to their own conclusions regarding it. The Freedom Forum however is a great place for this article due to the generally lower net-awareness of it's readership. (yes that is my real opinion)

  • Huh? What about NPR? Is it closed? Is it open?

    Sure, they do toot their own horn once in a while, but I think that while traditional in some sense, it is a stark contrast with "closed media".

    Katz says: How did the traditional media, once a populist, working-class information medium, fall so totally, even suicidally, in love with themselves?

    NPR beats this criteria to a pulp. News with a populist bent. Relying on no single source, doing their job because they enjoy it. Look, I'm studying journalism as a possible career path. Even top NPR people like Daniel Shorr, one of the most respected journalists in the world, make peanuts compared to the majors.

    Not everyone in "traditional" media, as if NPR could possibly take that label, falls into your "open & closed" categories Jon. It's not that cut and dry. Some of the best quality journalism is what you'd call "closed".

    Geez, it [NPR] was even founded in Wisconsin.

  • Back when the net was still young, there were few sites offering good gaming news.

    Then came along a little site called [www.voodoo...argetblank]. I've watched it grow from a small Provo, UT based "Isn't 3DFX a cool company?" to a full fledged "We got 50 billion news updates made every day".

    Almost all of their news is reported from the readers, eager to be famous for 5 seconds with the tag line "Soandso reported this story to us...". The site had grown, and it now one of the biggest gaming news sites on the Internet. (It and Blue's News [www.bluesn...argetblank].)

    I'd say both of these sites demonstrate with Mr. Katz is talking about - sites where the readers are the journalists, and the editors function as an error and fact checking system against them.
    John "Dark Paladin" Hummel
    We don't just like games, we love them!

  • In the beginning of this "story/post" by JonKatz, he talks about new media setbacks due to layoffs and "near death experiences". I call it survival of the fittest -- have you seen the number of people working at some of these places??? I mean, 150 or more people in some of these companies and what were there revenues again??? IMNSHO, they NEED to lay off about 1/3 to 1/2 of their staff because they are just-plain over-bloated!

    I mean, I work at an electronics distributor/manufacturer (9 years) and we have about 75 people producing revenues of about $75 million per year. We could EASILY have 150 people, but it's just not economically feasible because we're not a Dot-Com and we have to live by real rules like, we can't hire another person because we don't have the money!!!

    It's not like it's that bad any more (it was back when we had 4-20 people), but you get the point -- most of the Dot-Coms are simply being forced to live by the same rules as other companies and it's hurting. It may kill off the weak ones, but it can only be good for everyone in general -- from my own experience, I don't think they produce a better product by being so over-bloated, if anything they produce a worse product.
  • Instead of giving us his standard useless article filled with errors, Katz with this article and the last is giving us a useless article filled with errors that panders to us. It is any suprise that his description of "open media" is basically slashdot. Who can seriously like long lines at goverment offices? I think he is actually worried about his job, or at least the Katzbot has more AI functions than we thought.
  • Dream on. If there is a central idea that conventional media have willfully failed to grasp, it's that the future of information belongs to Open Media, even when AOL/Time-Warner gets its lawyers and lobbyists lined up.

    Uhhh, I just seemed to remember that I read a Katz piece speculating about who was responsible for the LoveBug virus a few weeks ago in TIME MAGAZINE (the bastion of closed media).

    I guess we should be happy that Katz is an equal opportunity "journalist", and doesn't discriminate against old media.

  • There is a line in the Balitmore, newspaper movie from the 80's "He Said, She Said" that goes "I've always wanted to write a newspaper column and change the way people think".

    That is typical of the post-60's journalism grad we have today. They don't merely want to report facts (who, what, when, where, how and why), they want to present the facts in such a way they can "change the way their readers think".

    Never has this been more evident than in the past 10 years as journalists sink to ever lower levels and biased reporting in order to "change the way we think".

    It sickens me to watch stories on the economy, foreign affairs, pending bills and most important to me, the Internet, as presented by these so-called journalists who barely understand the issues at hand, who present only part of the facts and then make statements more akin to opinion rather than summerization of facts.

    They smugly pat themselves on the collective backs as they coin words like "wonk", "pols", "Dems" and "pundits" and act as if they have discovered a cure for illiteracy in America. They disguise their obvious political leanings as "indepth reports" when actually they are extended propoganda presentations worth of Hitler or Stalin. They fawn over idiot Hollywood celebrities, career politicians (theives) and non-producing, worthless "intellectuals" and disconnect themselves from the working person in America.

    In my world, we would drag people of this ilk from their ivory tower, elitist land of oz into the streets for random lessons and just come uppance. However, the best (and levelheaded) course is to turn them off: Don't buy the papers, use Time and Newsweek for puppy training and leave Peter, Tom and Dan to sulk over their sinking ratings.
  • I'll come clean, Jon. I stopped after three paragraphs and quickly skimmed the rest in an optimistic quest to find content.

    Maybe I'll read your next article, and have something to say about it, but I'm not going to comment on this one, other than to say it lost my attention.

  • Show me the data...I've posted where I get mine from -- where's yours? You are just making up numbers off the top of your head. News consumption is down across the board, but that is due to the fact that young people are not reading or watching news anywhere...not because the people who were reading it in papers have all moved to online content.
  • follow this link to the PEW Research Center's Report [] backing up what I said about cable news. And I quote:
    The Pew Research Center survey finds no evidence that Internet use is driving down regular use of cable news channels, daily newspapers, or radio news. However, all news outlets are being affected by the public's slowly declining appetite for the news...

    With the viewership of network news declining, and cable news audiences remaining flat, network's lead over cable has narrowed to 11 percentage points...

    I don't know how you do math, but last time I checked flat means neither rising nor declining.

    If you have data that refutes mine, go ahead and post it so I'll know that you really don't just pull this stuff out of you know where...

  • "closed" media tend to hire better column writers, have better distrubition channels, better access to people involved in the news (through on spot reporting and interviews), better overall professionalism, etc., and, IMHO, produce a better quality product that I'm willing to *buy*.

    Excellent point, but who's to say "closed" media will be the only ones when some open media take off a bit more? The vast majority of people in the US who bother at all with the news do so via the TV; even CNN Headline News spends only 3 minutes on headlining stories. News reported online is often more up-to-the-minute and often more complex in its detail (links make that very easy to accomplish.) Many people whose primary sources of news are tv broadcasts are turning to the web instead or in addition, and many people who read the papers are turning the the web to augment their daily intake, or to get more depth.
    The proliferation of news sources makes for a market where writing quality is held in high regard (the Economist, the Sunday New York Times and Wired should continue to do well, but watch out USA Today!) and so is instant gratification-- immediate and accurate reporting (Reuters, CNN, and BBC online should do very well, especially since they add more depth than your average radio or television 10 second news flash.) Open media is changing the nature of the market, not replacing it. Closed media will be in a different sort of demand.
  • I am not convinced by Jon's reasoning that the empowering of readers via the "New Media"/"Open Media" will result in the death of the "Old Media". If Jon's argument that the " agendas and political philosophies [of the New Media"] are rarely static, but continuously evolving, a gift of interactivity" is correct, then this seems like a reason for why the New Media will never replace the Old Media.

    Not everyone is as open-minded as Slashdot readers, and even Slashdot readers are not as open-minded as they would like to think they are - just look how fast someone is moderated down for saying "Linux sucks". Advocates of the new media underestimate the inertia of the "establishment" and its desire to maintain the status quo. The average person does not want to encounter challenging ideas and shifting agendas and philosophies. People will read whichever newspaper agrees with their own philosophies and agendas, to give themselves that warm self-righteous feeling. Anything which challenges their own philospohy will be rejected as a heresy.

    Although the new media will certainly be important (at least until the New New Media comes along), the old media will always remain more popular.

  • I can't believe how negative the comments are to this piece. I've been trying to define this distinction for a long time, and this is close, though using the "open/closed" metaphor may be a reach by a hard core opensourcer. Maybe micro/macro is better? Here are my experiences.

    First indication that something was bad wrong with the media: During the tank assault on the Russian parliament some years ago, CNN was able to carry the video live over the air. Excellent. However, this exchange took place between the anchor and the reporter on scene:

    Anchor: Amazing that we're able to see this story live as it unfolds.

    Reporter: Yes, but it's a little scary that these images are being sent directly into people's homes without us to interpret for them...

    Now can anybody tell me what that means?

    Much later, I was building my first pc at home. Armed w/ the net, I thought it would be no problem. Search ZDNet, TechWeb... I got prices, but could I really make decisions based on what these sites have to say?

    Then I discovered tomshardware, anandtech, even sharkyextreme and the lower tiers of tech sites, and the information was 1000x more useful. Now I go to techweb for press releases, and nothing more.

    Now my primary source for entertainment news is aicn. Would anyone seriously refer me to e? Or Entertainment Tonight? I still get hard, international news from nytimes & bbc, but how long before that changes?

    I think the article's most important point is that old/new media is a false dichotomy. Most "new media" sites (as they are commonly described) are just old media in a new medium. An online magazine is still a magazine. But there really is new media out there, and it's growing.

    A similar thing happens with e-commerce sites. Sure, closed up shop, many front-line e-commerce co's are struggling. But a quick search at pricewatch reveals an enormous number of small, focused, cheap suppliers for anything you want.

    When the story of the "internet revolution" is finally written, I don't think anyone will be buying it at

  • by Phroggy ( 441 ) <.slashdot3. .at.> on Thursday June 22, 2000 @06:56AM (#984130) Homepage
    You might find the Open Content [] license interesting. Similar concept to the GPL, but applies to content such as news articles. Mac OS Rumors [] is an example of a site that releases its content under the Open Content License.


  • by phil reed ( 626 ) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @06:32AM (#984131) Homepage
    Random thoughts...

    I remember back in the Usenet glory days. It was like watching an amplified intelligence. Something would happen involving some topic, somebody would post something about it, and immediately (in usenet terms), people were all over it: reporting other instances, disecting and analyzing. I especially liked watching things like Urban Legends migrate around the country, and various reports popping up in the folklore newsgroups as the mainstream media picked them up.

    To me, that's what the New Media ought to be in it's finest instance - totally decentralized, a billion eyeballs all on an equal basis. It was also self-selecting - you decided what news was important or interesting to you. You didn't get your news on a plate.

    Slashdot is like this a little, at least in the area of the eyeballs and the analysis. It suffers the bottleneck of editorial picking and choosing of the topics, but it has the advantage of an attempt to reduce the noise level in the discussion by moderation. (Anybody notice an ongoing pattern of attack meta-moderation recently?)


  • by JonKatz ( 7654 ) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @05:43AM (#984132) Homepage

    No doubt I could have written it shorter, but we thought it was important to go into some history here, even though it strains some attention spans..But it isn't just about cost..People are willing to spend money in different contexts for information that is useful to them. So are advertisers. The larger point made in this post is true though..The closed media model works less and less well in an environment where the price of information is dropping and the availability of information is going up...People have always been willing to pay for useful information, the change here is that it's free.But new media like the Industry Standard, which has a print and e-component is making a lot of money, and charging as well. It isn't insider info, but useful info. Big distinction.
  • by JonKatz ( 7654 ) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @07:45AM (#984133) Homepage

    I find this a bizarre post.. To write about open media is hypocritical, because it's about open media? How precisely is one to write about an interesting subject if you can't write about it..I'd say this is a case of a leopard who hasn't thought this through..Now that we are deeply into non sequiturs..But let's get past Jon Katz for a sec..Do you think the column is right? Wrong? Flawed? Why so tough to not personalize a non personal subject?
  • by Leghorn ( 44886 ) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @05:43AM (#984134)
    I mostly agree with what you're saying, Jon, but I think there is one big thing missing in much online media: Credibility.

    Deserved or not, "closed media" has credibility and the users of "closed media" trust the reporters and editors to root out the facts.

    I'm no fan of conventional media, I work for a huge broadcasting conglomerate, and they do almost everything wrong when it comes to reporting the news.

    "Open media" sources must be checked out for errors, omissions, and bad information. In the "open media" there is no one to do this except the individual user. This is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because there are so many sources of information, but a curse since many users take what they read online at face value without doing any background research. Other users want to check out the information, but do not have the skills to root out the facts like someone with newsgathering or editorial experience.

    Personally, I wouldn't cry many tears if "closed media" went away in favor of "open media", but in order for this to happen, users must become skilled in self-editing or online sources will never attain the necessary level of credibility.
  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @05:05AM (#984135)
    You know, I've always been down on the people who are down on Jon Katz. I always thought they were being too whiny, too negative. But in all honesty, this piece could have been written by a program designed to generate articles Jon Katz-like fashion. It's such a complete parody of his writing style and attempts to make pop culture and mainstream events seem underground and hip.
  • by Phizzy ( 56929 ) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @05:35AM (#984136)
    Ok.. so Jon is saying that we should kill off the old media/new media buzzwords and replace with open media/closed media.. while I personally beleive that this is just an attempt for Katz to somehow tie himself in with the Open Source movement, by becoming an Open Journalist for the Open Media... I'll overlook that for the time being.

    Now, Kat'z argument is that closed media has to be purchased, open media is free.. well wait a minute there Jon.. I can walk into my neighborhood coffee shop and pick up a newspaper and read it with my coffee in the morning... without paying a cent. I can also walk to my desk in the morning and read similar news on the web. I do not pay for the content in either of these cases. I can also read the newspaper at home, where I pay a small fee for delivery, content and the physical medium on which it is printed, OR I can walk over to my desk and read similar information on a web page. I pay for my internet access... I pay a fairly signigicant amount per month for the delivery of this content and arguably for the electronic medium on which it is printed.. and the company makes money off me with ad revenues. I don't see so profound of a philosophical different as Mr. Katz between Open and Closed media.

    So quit trying to create more memes, do some research, actually give us some CONTENT.

    Thank you,

  • by Ozone Pilot ( 61737 ) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @05:16AM (#984137)
    If you have to make an investment of at least $600 for a decent internet capable computer, plus maybe $20/month for internet service to visit Open Media sites, how is that "open" to anyone except the priviledged?
  • by kootch ( 81702 ) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @05:45AM (#984138) Homepage
    Open Media, Closed Media, what the hell's the difference when someone else is paying the bills?

    So CNN is closed media. CNN relies upon advertising revenue to fuel its content and stories. It's supported by "corporatism"

    /. is now supposedly "open media". /. is now a publicly traded company owned by VA Linux. /. derives its revenue by selling banner ads and affiliate programs. It is also supported by "corporatism".

    So what does it matter if one directly functions off of user feedback and commentary, or if the user feedback and commentary is more subtle?

    /. directly functions off of the users reading the site, CNN functions off of determining the content that people would like to see and trying to show as much of an unbiased opinion based on the content available in the world and tracking "readership" to determine how much time to alot to a subject and what spot to give to that content.

    Open, Closed, it's all the same. Just in different ways.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @07:19AM (#984139) Homepage
    The problem for "content sites" is that the value of banner ads is declining, because everybody sends them and nobody reads them. Businesses that depend on users clicking on banner ads aren't getting enough revenue to stay alive. That's what's happening.

    Combined with this is the fact that both the stock market and the venture capitalists have lost patience with money-losing dot-coms. I just ran an automated screen on a list of dot-com stocks, scanning for money-losers without enough cash to last another year. (This will go up on [] in a few days.) Essentially all the money-losers have seen their stock go way down. It wasn't like that last year. From an investment perspective, the "dot-com/grab market share and don't worry about profitability" thing is over. Only the ones that have a business model that makes money will survive.

  • by Plastic Puller ( 135870 ) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @05:16AM (#984140)
    "Each reader becomes a highly-wired researcher and reporter, foraging for information."

    Sounds like my graduate school days, where to keep up with my research, my teaching, and my classes, I was snorting coke, popping speed, and guzzling coffee like it was good beer. Of course, when the weekend came around I would be so wound up that I would start drinking beer like it was coffee just to slow down my shaking. Somewhere along the line I found myself with a diploma and no marketable talents. But now I have found my calling in the new Open Media. Jon, once again you've changed my life.

    Flame on

  • by chrome koran ( 177357 ) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @05:46AM (#984141)
    I limit Katz articles to 2 minutes of my time. Wherever I get to when the 2 minutes is up, that's where I quit.

    Why he insists on preaching to the choir like this is beyond me...although in deference to the newspapers (not this NY Times article in particular) all the recent stats show that they are not losing their audience to online news, only network TV news is suffering. That's because most newspapers are loaded with a lot of important, factual stories that continue to captivate those who want to know what's going on in the world, whereas network news is nothing more than ratings-driven entertainment with a thin veneer of content on top. CNN, MSNBC, et. al (on cable) are also not being hurt by the millions of people who are reading news online for the same reason.

  • by Stiletto ( 12066 ) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @05:37AM (#984142)
    Although I didn't have the patience to wade through that huge article, one thing Jon mentioned early in the artical was right on. The media's #1 priority is promoting itself.

    Turn on your local news station one night and grab a stop-watch. It's funny, but also sad, to compare the length of time they spend talking about themselves with the length of time they spend on news. You will more than likely find that your local news station spends more seconds saying things like "LIVE! LATE BREAKING! CHANNEL 7 NEWS!!" than it spends talking about the story.

  • by gavinhall ( 33 ) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @05:25AM (#984143)
    Posted by 11223:

    I think it's time you stop, now that you've just compared the Open Source/Closed Source movement with media. Step back, realize that not everything is related to this little political movement, (quite like the 60's movement, anyway). Then attack the issue again (which I'm going to do here).

    In Time (this week or last, I can't remember) it was said that the Salon example was a foreshadowing of the state of new media - fired because the number of hits to the article wasn't high enough. It's almost like the TV-isation of journalism - just like TV anchors can be fired for not attracting viewers, 'net writers can be fired for not attracting readers (and thus ad hits). That doesn't happen in a traditional media format. I gets my subscription to Time, I reads the articles. You don't selectively browse a magazine, or read just parts "because you like the author". (Some people do, but that usually defeats the purpose - you bought the magazine, so at some point most people read it all). And nobody fired a magazine author for not being popular enough. That would manifest itself in other ways - writer isn't interesting, writer writes horribly. After a time, you get to know the regular columnists, whether or not you always agree with what they say.

    The model of the new journalism is the model of the TV - getting rid of authors because their ratings aren't high enough, trying to attract eyeballs for advertising. It's not about openness. My static copy of Time is more vaulable to me than any article on Slashdot, simply because it's a well-thought out piece that's not incomplete without feedback (like this forum). And there's always a letters to the editor section.

    [Insert good closing here...]

  • Stop the presses! In a story today on Slashdot, a Slashdot employee compared Slashdot with other media and concluded that Slashdot was best!!!

    Strangely, the stock price of failed to react to this ringing endorsement of Slashdot by Slashdot.

    Jon, the fact that /. editors get their news from "Open" media means damn-all, because where do these places get their information from? By and large, "Closed" media. How many links do you get from Slashdot to the New York Times in a typical week? And how many going the other way? To me, that says that people still want to know that their media is coming from actual journalists, with fact-checkers, standards, and all the other desperately "OLD" standards that stop, to take a wild example, stories about GNOME and KDE being integrated from being posted while they're about a quarter baked.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.