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The Atlantic Debates Old, New Media

In the latest issue of The Atlantic, James Fallows puts together an impressive piece on old media vs. new media. He speaks to a wide range of people – Jay Rosen, Jeff Jarvis, Eric Schmidt – to give the article an all encompassing feel, but the meat of the piece is centered around Nick Denton and Gawker, who represent new media.

Fallows basically makes the case that Denton and Gawker are the future of media, and that though their way might seem shocking now, it’s important to realize the benefits of a rapidly changing media landscape.

The problem people have with embracing Gawker is that it doesn’t neccesarily provide real news, but that’s something that even Denton admits:

In my first ‘interview’ with him for this story, conducted over the course of nearly an hour through an instant-message exchange, he said that a market-minded approach like his would solve the business problem of journalism—but only for ‘a certain kind of journalism.’ It worked perfectly, he said, for topics like those his sites covered: gossip, technology, sex talk, and so on. And then, as an aside: ‘But not the worthy topics. Nobody wants to eat the boring vegetables. Nor does anyone want to pay [via advertising] to encourage people to eat their vegetables.’

Fallows goes on to explain that because Gawker doesn’t give any weight to solid news items, there’s always going to be a place for sites (and papers!) that do, we just have to figure them out.

Even “old media” legend Tom Brokaw agrees, as he tells Fallows, “We’re creating a whole new universe. All those planets that are out there, colliding with each other, we don’t know which ones will support life and which will burn up.”

When Brokaw gets deep, you know it’s important.

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