Ananova, the world’s first virtual newscaster
Daedalus is tackling the future of news in their spring issue, with fourteen essays from prominent writers and thinkers about what is happening to news media.
We selected our favorite quotes and collected them here.
The links are all to PDF files, but they’re not very large downloads.
New Economics for U.S. Journalism:
“[S]erious journalism can be supported with funding from a variety of sources behind carefully constructed firewalls built on traditional standards of journalistic ethics.”
During the 1960s, for example, general-interest magazines such as Look and The Saturday Evening Post began to die off as reader interest shifted to new publications like Sports Illustrated and People, which gained a large audience among those interested in sports and celebrities. Start-up online news organizations are making similar bets that they can become essential sources of serious news at a time when general-interest newspapers are losing readers and advertisers and are shrinking their news staffs, leaving critical gaps in news coverage.
Amateur citizen-journalists sometimes do not have the skills and background to produce the most accurate journalism. Newspapers, with professional reporters and editors, still account for breaking the vast majority of important news stories, and some websites and bloggers are mainly drawing from news already published by newspapers.
The Web allows our best journalists to surrender the prosaic task of telling everyone what just happened. It allows them to leave some coverage of speeches and press conferences to the cable networks and YouTube; to leave some interviews with investigators and survivors to diligent wire-service reporters; to fob off some surveillance of various backwaters on the gadflies and obsessives who replenish their blogs every couple of hours. The Web allows our best journalists—it requires them, I will argue—to return to an older and higher view of their calling: not as reporters of what’s going on but as individuals capable of providing a wise take on what’s going on….Ah, you say, but the front page of The New York Times can do a better job with a story than did an Associated Press account on Yahoo. Yes, but do those quotes from a couple of sagacious sources neglected by the AP, those three extra paragraphs putting the event in context, make up for the fact that you’ve already known this “news” for twenty hours? Hold on, you say, a version of this story was up on the Times website not long after Drudge, Huffington, and the others had it, and it was more measured and thorough. Yes, but is that all The New York Times is to be: The Huffington Post or the Associated Press but a little slower and somewhat better? Our best journalists need to find a new game to play.
Versions of [Max] Headroom, [a fictional cyborg journalist,] began to appear in the real world of news less than a generation later. In 2000, the British news agency Press Association introduced Ananova.com, billed as ‘the world’s first virtual newscaster.’…
The novelist Emile Souvestre’s The World as It Shall Be (1846) describes Le Grand Pan, “the paper that never sleeps,” as a print version of 24/7 cnn, reporting the news in the year 3000 as it happens. An immense roll of newsprint on large spools flows from the newspaper’s building, endlessly snaking along waist high in front of cafes, shops, and reading rooms, then climbing to a third-floor subscriber’s apartment and returning to street level, “hotly pursued by non-subscribers who hoped to snatch a little information as it went by.” The behavior of the non-subscribers suggests the behavior of Internet users today who choose to read newspapers for free online rather than pay for subscriptions.