Ther’s been a lot of noise about the “Internet Manifesto” over the last few days. Written by a group of 15 journalists and bloggers in Germany, the list of 17 positions on the future of journalism serves as a half-decent State of the Nation… detailing the current realities, and the changes that must be made.
While I applaud the exercise – and happen to agree with the majority of it – the delivery annoyed me. It’s a little patronising, and a lot aggressive. We know the king is dead, but does the new king have to be such an asshole? Here’s some snippets:
“Journalism’s self-conception is—fortunately—being cured of its gatekeeping function…..The media must adapt their work methods to today’s technological reality instead of ignoring or challenging it….If media companies want to continue to exist, they must understand the lifeworld of today’s users and embrace their forms of communication. This includes basic forms of social communication: listening and responding, also known as dialog.”
Wooo! What is this.. a ransom note? WE HAVE YOUR INDUSTRY, AND IF YOU EVER WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN YOU MUST DEPOSIT 7 TONNES OF HUMBLE PIE INTO YOUR NEAREST SERVICE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY!!
Perhaps a little has been lost in translation from German to English? I don’t think so. The thing reads like a goddam paralegal textbook! It’s got more syllables than a Sri Lankan family tree! Here’s a snippet:
“The web rearranges existing media structures by transcending their former boundaries and oligopolies.”
Surely in this brave new world of democratised journalism – a world that the manifesto so brusquely outlines – people need to understand what the hell you are talking about? Surely the ground rules shouldn’t be the preserve of the über-educated? And anyway, if they really wanted to walk the walk…shouldn’t they have crowdsourced the whole thing in the first place?
Luckily, I had a crack team of ace gobbledygook-to-English translators at hand to sieve though the wordage:
1) The internet is different to newspapers. Deal with it.
2) You don’t have to be Billy Big Paper to do journalism any more, anyone can do it.
3) Billy Big Paper should get into Facebook and stuff. The kids love it.
4) Note to Russia and China: Enough blocking the internet already.
5) There is loads of stuff on the internet.
6) On the internet you can change stuff after you’ve written it. Which is great.
7) Link to stuff, it’s really good when you do that.
8 ) Same as above. And by the way, Google is God.
9) There are lots of people on the internet. Talk to them.
10) See rule 2)
11) Quantity is an excellent thing. Make lots of things and put them on the internet.
12) Your old business model is rubbish. Change it.
13) Don’t charge for content.
14) See rule 12)
15) Don’t delete things.
16) Quality is king. Forget what we said in 11)
17) A good journalist listens as well as talks, despite the fact that no crowdsourcing was involved during the making of this declaration.
18) Dum de dum de daa bla bla antidisestablishmentarianism bla bla and so on and so forth la la la.
Oops, I added one at the end.
Related posts (examples of me being annoyingly prescriptive about old media and the internet):
• How Big Broadsheet should deal with Big Blog: The ground rules
• Events, my dear newspapers, events will never be the bread and butter
• Why membership is an Old Media solution to a New Media problem